By Ronnie Layoo
The Gulu district Alcohol ordinance has hit a snag after the leadership have failed to provide reinforcement officers to impound sachet waragi and plastic bottled Alcohol in less than 250 millilitres.
When the district passed the Alcohol ordinance last year it was received with excitement which followed several procession including marching in Gulu town streets then impounding the sachet brands including premium brands which caused a lot of losses among the business community and finalised with burning of the various boxes of Alcohol.
The leader on the spot is the municipality Mayor George Labeja who has been reportedly blocking the municipal enforcement officers from helping the implementation of the District Alcohol drinking Ordinance.
Aber Trisha from Gulu arch diocese who has been at the fore front of supporting the district in developing the ordinance says that the ordinance doesn’t cover plastic bottles but sachets and the industry has responded by changing packaging to plastic bottles yet the same content which the ordinance has banned.
The mayor has said that he is publically in support of the ordinance but his actions and the role of municipality enforcers is very important because in town areas is where the large deports are located and whenever they are contacted they says that they have been blocked by higher authority which has frustrated all efforts to have sachets and plastics removed from the market, Aber said.
Aber says that the mayor is using delay tactics of premium brands packed in glass bottles not to be targeted as well as stating that more of these sachets are based in rural areas and not in town that’s why municipality enforcement officers can’t be dispersed for the operations.
After realising that the municipality enforcement officers are failing to implement the ordinance the religious leaders under Acholi religious peace initiative today stormed the mayor’s office to engage him on why he is not sending his enforcement officers.
Gulu Mayor George labeja however refuted the allegation saying that the implementation of the alcohol ordinance is not being well implemented because it is only targeting a few retail traders in town and not the suppliers or the main deport.
Labeja says that retailers spend a lot of money buying the premium brands which are in glass bottles and they are not among the banned Alcohol in the ordinance but whenever there is enforcement they confiscate all the alcohol and the business community suffer with loses.
These are our children and they have kids they are paying at school when we disrupt their business they will fail to pay their children at school which will cause a great problem in the future to the nation, Labjea stated.
The mayor also noted that the enforcement officer currently are concentrating on revenue collections, he also stated that the enforces don’t belong to him but they are employed by the municipality which is controlled by the council so he stated that council needs to first convene and decided on how the enforcement officers should operate
The Mayor further stated that there is need to sensitize the business people so that they can be well aware of the ordinance, adding that he will convene a meeting with the religious leaders, Business community, producers and the Police to try to forge a way forward for a better implementation of the law, but when the meeting should be convened was not stipulated.
Acholi district Khadi Sheik Musa Khelil today was among the religious leaders who stormed the Office of the mayor of Gulu municipality Mr George labeja demanding to know why he has failed to send his enforcement officers to implement the Gulu district Alcohol ordinance. Sheilk Musa Khelil noted that there is a definite lack of coordination between the Office of the Mayor, the Local Government Officials and Police which has led to slow down in the implementation of the Gulu district Alcohol ordinance
The religious leader also argue that the mayor has failed to provide 16 of his enforcement Officers in the divisions to implement the ordinance, the mayor was also recently reported in the Media for trying to sabotage the implementation of the ordinance by stopping the operation of the implementing officers.
Gulu’s alcoholic drinks Control Ordinance is the result of a movement of different religious and community groups, working together with Gulu District to pass a law to protect Gulu’s citizens from the harms of alcohol. The law, which bans alcohol in plastic sachets and plastic bottles, was approved by the Attorney General in October 2016, and publically launched in Gulu in November.