ALCOHOL poisoning is serious and sometimes with deadly consequences such as blindness, madness and even death.
So revellers buying counterfeit booze such as the famous junta in case of Zambia are certainly risking their lives.
This is because drinking illicit alcohol can affect an individual’s general health and potentially lead to a coma and death in severe cases.
The increasing presence of fake or illegally produced alcohol such as junta is a worrying development which should equally startle authorities, especially the ministry of health.
Experts have repeatedly warned that people have gone blind and even been killed by illicit alcohol, and it is not something that should be taken nonchalantly even in Zambia.
This message should be made absolutely clear to those residents of Lusaka’s Kalingalinga Township who have taken to rampant abuse of junta, a highly potent alcoholic beverage.
These are spirits that include whisky and brandy packed in pocket-size bottles selling cheaply at as low as K5 per bottle.
The alcohol content ranges from 43 percent to 65 percent, making junta dangerously potent.
Reports indicate that two bottles are enough to knock out two average adults, even sending them on a one-way trip to a local cemetery.
Some concerned women of Kalingalinga say it is disheartening to see young people, men and women drinking junta without restraint every day and without thinking about their health as the product was a danger to their lives.
We can’t agree more with Ms Ester Mulenga, one of the concerned residents, who thinks that there is need for Government to enforce the ban of junta and tujilijili sachets in the community to promote safe health.
Government should get to the bottom of these illicit drinks by regulating their manufacture and distribution because indeed many lives, especially of the youths, are being mercilessly destroyed.
Ms Mulenga fears that the situation is already getting out of hand and people’s lives are at stake because people start drinking as early as 05:00 hours and go well beyond regulated official business hours.
What is probably more worrying is that junta is gamely available in stores, market places, in make-shift stalls and on the streets.
“It’s sad that bars open by 05:00 hours and to make matters worse even married women are found in bars drunk. You wonder what time they look after their families. What time do they sweep and wash dishes in their homes?
“They should ban tujilijili completely. The law should be enforced because the situation is getting out of hand. They should close down the companies that make them, please,” Ms Mulenga said.
Another concerned resident, Alice Mwansa, wonders how people can stop abusing the illicit spirits if they are that easy to access.
She rightly says that those who take tujilijili or junta especially women have lost respect in society.
Men, too, have become imprudent and fail to take care of their families on account of taking to junta and other illicit alcoholic drinks.
Youths turn into animals after taking junta and become vicious criminals that openly attack innocent people in the community by beating or stealing from them, in some cases even raping women.
We think our Lusaka City Council (LCC) has fared badly in supervising alcohol outlets in the city, which has resulted in bars and night clubs doing as they feel, including the allowing of underage patrons.
It is not a secret that many bars in Lusaka’s townships illegally open as early as 05.00 hours and close when the devils say so. The law must bring the culprits to book.
No doubt Government is fighting losing battles with powerful cartels profiting from these illicit drinks which are gnawing at the very core of Zambia’s population – the youth.