Despite a spirited police crackdown against illegal waragi trade in Karamoja, the business has continued to boom in Moroto district, adopting new tricks of sneaking the domestic distilled beverage into the region.
The new tricks of transporting illicit waragi which include packing it in sacks disguised as posho are frustrating police efforts to stop the gin from entering the region.
When our reporter visited parts of Moroto Municipality, illicit waragi could be seen being sold in open markets mostly in the areas of Campswahili juu, Kakoliye and Kambizi in South Division.
However police operations are are yet to cover all corners and David Ouma, a resident of Kakoliye ward, says there is no time police has ever tried restricting the sale of illicit gin in his area and dealers are trading freely.
Ouma says the major customers who buy the illicit waragi come from the villages which are far away from town and they carry it in plastic bottles. He noted that some of the police officers also buy the same waragi and they are aware of the trade.
Mary Ariokot, a waragi dealer, told the press that police restrictions have enabled them to make more profits because they use the constraints to hike the prices.
Ariokot says that a 20 litres jerrican that used to sell at 150,000 shillings is now going for 300,000.
Ariokot who declined to reveal how they manage to penetrate into the region with illicit waragi, says it’s very hard to stop the business that has supported their families for years.
‘’I’m just requesting the government to regulate alcohol consumption but not to ban it completely because this is the business that is supporting our families. at least they can set by-laws to control the intake,’’ she pleaded.
Meanwhile, Albert Lomer, another resident says it is unfair to stop the waragi business in Karamoja and yet it is something being sold and consumed countrywide.
Lomer says the government is making their life hard because if it is true waragi is a bad, business then they could have blocked it from the source.
‘’Waragi is countrywide and the factories or wherever it is manufactured are operating day and night, why can’t they start by blocking from there?” Lomer asked.
However, Micheal Longole, the Mt Moroto Regional Police Spokesperson says that those who have ignored the ban shall face the wrath of the law because they seem to be taking the matter for lightly.
Longole asked the illicit gin dealers to stop the trade or else will be eligible for heavy fines.
‘’We have been impounding vehicles carrying waragi and Jerricans of alcohol are destroyed but the business is still booming, we now need tough action against these traders,’’ he said.
According to him, the security force will continue being vigilant in all the supply routes to Karamoja to fight the vice.
Karamoja sub-region gloomily is ranked as number one alcohol consumer in the country, according to the Uganda National Household survey 2019/2020.
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