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The East African : Jan 19th 2015
12 A LAW TO DRINK TO The EastAfrican NEWS JANUARY 17-23,2015 Relief afte≥ ban on Da≥ tou≥ vans lifted By ADAM IHUCHA Special Correspondent TANZANIAN TOUR operators have breathed a sigh of relief after Kenya temporarily lifted its ban on their tour vans. On December 22, Kenya barred Tanzanian vehicles from dropping off or picking up travellers at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). While no official state- Workers clean assorted bottles of alcoholic drinks that were recovered at a compound in Ruai, near Nairobi, last May. Picture: File Kenya’s methanol rules aimed at taming the ‘drink of death’ In ≥ecent yea≥s, 200 people we≥e killed and many mo≥e blinded by spi≥its laced with the compound By CHRISTABEL LIGAMI Special Correspondent T he Kenya National Standards Council has approved a safety code that brewers, distillers of alcoholic drinks and other industries will be required to observe when handling methanol. The code was set by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) last year in response to a rise in deaths and blindness from consumption of illicit liquor that was often laced with methanol to make it more potent. “This is to bring to the attention of the public, importers and users of metha- nol of two new standards for methanol that have been approved by the National Standards Council Code of Practice,” reads the Council’s notice. “Part I, the Safety of Methanol, requires all grades of methanol except those meant for laboratory use to be denatured with denatonium benzoate (ammonium salt) to prevent oral intake by vulnerable consumers.” All stakeholders of metha- nol in the country, adds the notice, are expected to acquire the new standards and implement the requirement alongside the other specifications with immediate effect. “The new standards have VACANCY SHORT-TERM DEVELOPMENT CONSULTANTS The Mama Ada Foundation, an NGO with development programs in three villages in Uasin Gishu County wishes to recruit 3 consultants to assist in an interdisciplinary team to identify and understand major location-specific farming constraints, challenges, and risks as perceived by smallholder farmers. MAF is seeking one consultant in each of the following areas for 12-18 days during June-July 2015: (1) Smallholder livestock specialist; (2) Rural Community development, farmer organization and gender specialist; and (3) Agricultural marketing, business and credit specialist. Tasks and Responsibilities • Conduct pre and post-fieldwork research and study as assigned • Participate and contribute as a team member to interviews with farmers, input suppliers, agricultural support organizations, market actors, etc. • Contribute to preparation of an Action Plan including specific recommendations for alleviating constraints and designing follow-up project Candidate Profile • Advanced degree in one or more disciplines relevant to the positions and the assignment • Minimum of 5 years of relevant work experience • Demonstrated understanding and experience in agricultural, rural and community development issues, constraints and challenges in Kenya Requirements • Travel freely in Kenya away from home for the duration of the assignment • Work long hours as needed outside normal work hours • Use own laptop computer with updated MS Office or similar software, email, Internet, etc. Application Process Interested candidates are required to submit an application letter, curriculum vitae, and consultant fee (daily rate) via email to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than February 1, 2015. Only successful candidates will be contacted for interview via Skype. Under the new directives, alcoholic drinks manufacturers must demonstrate the presence of a laboratory that can test both qualitative and quantitative composition of alcohol, especially methanol and ethanol (gas chromatography is the recommended method). SAFETY CODE Records of tests done must be maintained to demonstrate compliance; records of completed tests must be maintained been approved and have been gazetted by the government,” Kebs managing director Charles Ongwae said. The code is an effort by Kebs to curb the sale of illicit spirits in the country and cut down the number of deaths occuring as a result of their consumption. Denatonium benzoate is one of the bitterest substances around, making it difficult for revellers to swallow even a drop of any liquid containing a trace of the compound. In five years, more than 200 people have died in the country as a result of illicit spirits with many more losing their sight. Last May, up to 78 people died after consuming illicit spirits in Embu and other parts of the country. It is believed that the il- licit spirits were spiked with industrial methanol. This cheap industrial variety of alcohol is added to the drink to give it a kick but it is poisonous to the nervous system. Many more have lost their sight after consuming the illicit spirits. Medical experts to demonstrate that they are complying with the rules; the manufacturers must have on their staff a person qualified in food and safety analysis (trained to at least the diploma level); manufacturers must have physical possession of the standards of the products being produced; the code of practice for the manufacture of, handling and distribution of alcoholic beverages; and have established a product recall policy/strategy. indicate that about 10 millilitres of pure methanol can destroy the optic nerve, rendering a drinker blind. At least 78 manufacturing lines of alcoholic beverages are still under investigation as a result of the deaths occasioned by the consumption of drinks laced with methanol. Implementing directives Kebs is also implementing its new directives on the use of methanol and ethanol in drinks that it issued in July last year, the official said. John Mututho, chairman of the National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada), said with the new regulations by Kebs, very soon there shall be a cleaner society. “Unlike in the past, it is now clear to all alcohol manufacturers how to handle methanol and ethanol,” said Mr Mututho. He added that Nacada ex- pected the number of deaths or ailments as a result of toxic drinks to decline significantly. Tourists photograph a lion in Kenya’s Masaai Mara Game Reserve. Picture: File ment was issued in Nairobi, industry sources said the move was in retaliation for Tanzania’s refusal to allow Kenyan tour operators to take tourists directly to its national parks. Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie announced a three-week moratorium after a meeting with her Tanzanian counterpart, Lazaro Nyalandu, in Nairobi on Friday. Ms Kandie said Kenya had agreed to allow Tanzanian vehicles to operate as the two countries prepare for a bilateral meeting to be held in three weeks. According to sources, Kenya and Tanzania have identified numerous challenges to the tourism industry in both countries and agreed to find lasting solutions in the talks. A source quoted the Kenyan minister as having said that after the upcoming talks, Nairobi will say whether the Tanzanian vehicles will be banned for good or be given special permits to handle passengers at JKIA and tourist attractions. Mr Nyalandu said he was optimistic that the dispute would be solved. The news was received with jubilation in Tanzania’s safari capital, Arusha. “Although the decision came rather late — nearly 26 days later — we are happy that at least we have been allowed to operate as we used to,” Rainbow Shuttles managing director Mathew Mollel told The EastAfrican. Waturi Matu, co-ordinator of the East African Tourism Platform, separately termed the current crisis unfortunate but expected. “Kenyan tourist service vehicles have been denied entry into Kilimanjaro International Airport since 1985,” Ms Matu noted. According to her, what is needed is a review of the bilateral agreement in line with provisions of the EAC Common Market Protocol on free movement of services and labour. However, the KIA man- agement denied these allegation. The director of finance and corporate services at Kilimanjaro Development Company, Bakari Murusuri, told The EastAfrican that the firm had not received a circular from the Tanzanian government banning Kenyan vehicles from the airport. Tanzania has also denied Kenya’s tour operators access to its national parks through the Bologonja border point for 38 years. Bologonja, which lies be- tween Tanzania’s flagship park Serengeti and Kenya’s Maasai Mara Game Reserve, was until the mid1970s a convenient route for tourists visiting the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Following the collapse of the first East African Community in 1977, Tanzania closed its border points with Kenya for nearly seven years. Dar es Salaam reviewed the order in the mid-1980s and opened its main entry points — save for Bologonja — to tourist traffic. The two countries signed a tourism co-operation agreement in 1985 following the November 16, 1983 Arusha Summit, which resolved that only local operators could access all tourist attractions and that tourists would pass through designated border posts or regional towns. Kenya’s entry points into Tanzania are Namanga, Sirari, Holili and Horohoro while Namanga, Isebania, Taveta and Lungalunga are Tanzania’s entry points into Kenya.
Jan 12th 2015
Jan 26th 2015