Tuesday January 17 2017

Leaders defy minister’s waragi directive

Implementation. Gulu District police commander

Implementation. Gulu District police commander Martin Okoyo (left) inspects boxes of impounded sachets of waragi in Gulu Town in December last year. PHOTO BY Julius Ocungi 


Gulu. Gulu District local government has defied a directive from the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Ms Amelia Kyambadde, to extend the ban on waragi sold in sachets to September.

In November last year, the district passed an alcohol ordinance restricting the sale and consumption of crude waragi packed in sachets and plastic bottles of less than 250ml.

The ban
The ban was implemented follwing confiscation of more than 200 cartons of sachet waragi from traders within the district in December.
The move, however, did not go down well with Ms Kyambadde who immediately wrote a letter to the district directing the leaders to extend the ban till September to coincide with the national ban on waragi in sachets.
In the letter, Ms Kyambadde said government had already issued a national ban on manufacturing sachet waragi adding that the district ought to give time for the dealers to adjust to the ordinance.

But the district chairperson, Mr Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, while responding to Ms Amelia’s directive, said the district passed its alcoholic drinks control ordinance under the Local Government Act and there is no way it will stop its implementation.

In a January 9 letter addressed to Ms Amelia and copied to the permanent secretary in the ministry of Local Government and Gulu District officials, Mr Mapenduzi said the district is following international best practices to protect the health and socio-economic well-being of citizens.
He noted that half the world and most notably neighbouring Kenya have passed such laws banning the sale of alcohol in sachets.
Speaking to Daily Monitor in an interview last Thursday, Mr Mapenduzi said sachet waragi has negatively affected the youth and the community who find it cheaper to buy, adding that the district cannot wait until September this year to begin implementing its ordinance.

He, however, stressed that their ordinance has upset some powerful people in government who have since threatened some district leaders and security officers to desist from implementing the ban or face consequences

According to Mr Mapenduzi, the minister wrote a letter on January 4 seeking to hold a meeting with the district council on finding avenues of coming to terms with the ordinance without affecting manufacturers.

The ban

In November last year, the Ministry of Trade issued a statement notifying alcohol manufacturers that government has given them up to September 30 to stop the sale of alcohol packaged in sachets. The national ban on sachet waragi will, therefore, mean all alcohol manufacturers will pack alcoholic drinks in plastic or glass bottles. According to the Ministry of Trade data, currently, 75 per cent of the alcohol manufactured in Uganda is sold in sachets while the rest (25 per cent) is sold in bottles.