Illicit gin (Waragi) dealers in Moroto are counting losses following a police operation that saw over 40 jerrycans of the local potent gin destroyed. Police stormed Naitakwae market on Monday and impounded the Waragi valued at Shillings 4 million.
A jerrycan of Waragi goes for between Shillings 70,000 to 100,000. Richard Aruk Maruk, the Mt. Moroto Region Police Commander, says Waragi remains the major cause of violence in the region and other crimes including murder.
In Kosiroi in Tapac Sub County in Moroto, police claims that about 18 people died last year due to excessive consumption of alcohol. Some of the victims die while in bed while others fight to death. Even children, whose parents drink have on many occasions fallen victims of Waragi as parents either sit or fall on them when drunk, according to Maruk.
According to medical reports in the region, excessive consumption of alcohol has proven to be one of the biggest medical-social problems. Statistics at Matany Hospital, one of the leading missionary founded health facilities in the region where most patients are referred to indicate that a number of patients coming to hospital reporting use of alcohol increased from 4,109 in 2017 to 6,103 by June 2018.
The statistics also show that a number of patients admitted because of alcohol abuse either directly or indirectly has increased by 25 per cent. Alcohol has direct effects, which include acute alcohol intoxication. The indirect effects manifest through fights, domestic violence, road traffic accidents and attempted suicide among others, according to Dr. John Bosco Nsubuga, the Medical Superintendent, Matany Hospital.
Dr. Nsubuga says alcohol is now the third top most cause of deaths in Karamoja standing at 11 per cent. Andrew Keem Napaja, the Moroto District Chairperson says waragi is responsible for the increasing poverty levels in the district. But Jacinta Napore, a resident of Moroto faults law enforcement for failing to man Waragi entry points into Karamoja.
“This Waragi is imported from other regions here. It passes through police check points and we see boda bodas ferrying it to villages. When it reaches villages, even police and army men are customers. Why cost someone a loss when actually, there is no spirit to stop the trade” she said.