After the failed attempt to raid Keroche industries last week, Kenyans have been united in supporting the Naivasha based brewery in the wake of the government crackdown of what has come to be referred to as “second generation” alcoholic drinks.
Area Member of Parliament John Kihagi and Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Osman Warfa had gone to the factory following the directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta that legislators and government administrators lead exercises in their regions to crack down illicit brews.
But the company’s officials led by Chief Executive Tabitha Karanja thwarted the attempt to raid it. And since then both Kenyan’s on social media and residents are questioning what they see as the government’s inability to protect legitimate beer manufacturers during the crackdown.
Even though the Keroche raid never took place, Karanja has since claimed it was motivated by political witch hunt, a statement that quite a number of people support.
What is happening to @kerochebrewery is just sad after investing billions & employing many Kenyans.
— james wamathai (@uqweli) July 8, 2015
“If all government agencies had given Keroche a clean bill of health, why raid it now?”
asked Dennis Okomol, the Nakuru Town Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Chairperson.
Analysts feel that the industry is being targeted unfairly for having associated with CORD leader Raila Odinga in the past.
“The family has had a long history with Raila. She (Tabitha Karanja) also calls some shorts when it comes to political decisions in Naivasha,” added Okomol.
The Keroche industry is estimated to be worth billions of investment. While crying foul of the crackdown the CEO requested for proper mechanisms to be followed, a stand that was supported on twitter.
Keroche is famous for its beer, Summit, which it manufactures alongside other brands, some of which were listed by the government as illicit. And according to one opinion leader in Nakuru the troubles of Keroche are in these ‘other brands’.
Victor Ngatia, an Engineer who in 2013 lost the Nakuru Town West parliamentary seat at the primaries level the authenticity of the alcoholic brands manufactured by Keroche needs to be tested.
“The problem with Keroche is their genesis. She (Tabitha) didn’t start with beer. She started with low quality beer. How good has it come?” he posed.
“The beer is fine but the spirits. That’s where the catch is,”
he added saying the company created suspicion when it denied residents access to its plant.
“It was only prudent that she allows people to get in and check,” he said.
Although the company has since resumed operations after closing for a day during the attempted raid, there are still questions on whether the directive from the President which cost some investors millions of money was wise. Questions also linger on whether it was right to involve politicians who, instead of provincial administrators. The million dollar question however, is about the measures the government will take to ensure that the real illegal manufacturers who were tamed during the raid don’t go back to their back street business.
The team at Keroche Breweries handling the company’s social media accounts went online and provided live updates of the incidents to its customers and Kenyans at large thereby creating a lot of awareness on the matter and drumming up support from Kenyans to question the motives behind the crackdown.