The Governor of the Eastern Province Fred Mufurukye has called upon residents to partner with security organs to fight trafficking, sell and use of psychotropic substances.
The Governor was speaking yesterday in Ngoma District where he addressing a community gathering in Kazo Sector.
This was after the exercise to dispose of about 680 kilogrammes of cannabis and over 3200 litres of illicit brew.
The destruction exercise came a day after other 34000 litres of illicit brew were also disposed of in Kazo.
The poured illicit drinks were seized from one resident in Kazo, who was operating an illegal distillery. The illegal plant was discovered during the ongoing Rwanda National Police (RNP) and Rwanda Standards Bureau (RBS) joint operations against illegal or substandard distilleries.
While addressing the residents, Governor Mufurukye warned those operating illegal distilleries and drug dealers in general.
“It has come to light that only 20 percent of the 104 distilleries in this region are licensed. All entities are going to work with security organs and you the people, to dismantle these illegal plants that make hazardous substances that are harmful to your health,” the Governor said.
So far, the ongoing joint operation by RNP and RBS has closed 45 illegal breweries in the Eastern Province alone.
According to the report, out of 27 distilleries inspected in the Northern Province, only seven fulfilled the requirements while 19 out of 32 found in the Southern Province were also closed.
Only one distillery each was closed in the City of Kigali and the Western Province. In all the closed illegal or substandard breweries, the substances were also disposed of.
“The safety and security is your responsibility as well, for without it development will derail. Drug dealers and abusers are a threat to your lives, health and the overall wellbeing,” Mufurukye said, citing school dropouts, domestic conflicts and child abuse as some of the repercussions of illicit drugs.
He wondered how someone can invest Rwf20 million in operating an illegal distillery, which is "more than enough to start a lawful and standard licensed brewery."
About 58 breweries recently applied for the standard mark with RSB, but only eleven of them were given the S-mark after an inspection and fulfilling all the requirements.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Dismas Rutaganira, the Eastern Regional Police Commander, commended the role of the public in fighting making, selling and consumption of illicit substances.
“The operations are still ongoing across the country. We are aware that some distilleries are even not known, others operate without license; even some of those with license don’t follow the standard criteria, use hazardous raw materials and operate in unhygienic places, which are all considered in this operation to prevent health implications that might arise out of these dangerous substances,” ACP Rutaganira said.
He also said that RNP is working with their counterparts across the border in Tanzania, in joint operations especially in River Akagera and other routes, to break the chain of cannabis traffickers.
Meanwhile, Phillip Nzaire, the director of Quality Assurance at RSB, said that there are specific standard procedures that should be followed.
“Banana based alcoholic beverages have specifications; only food grade processing aids recognized as safe for human consumption shall be used during the manufacture. There are also content limits that shouldn’t be exceeded,” Nzaire said.
“The labeling is also a prerequisite; the name of the products, physical and postal address of manufacturer; net contents in millilitres or litres; ethyl alcohol content; date of manufacture and expiry date; storage instruction; statutory warnings; and list of ingredients in descending order; all these are part of the standard requirements,” he added.
Some of the distilleries were found packing in disposed of water and Heineken bottles.