• April 15, 2024
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Bar owners appeal to government to spare outlets that have complied with Alcoholic regulations

Bar owners appeal to government to spare outlets that have complied with Alcoholic regulations

Nakuru,

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

KNA by Jane Ngugi and Dennis Rasto

Bar owners in Bahati Sub-county in Nakuru have pleaded with authorities, to only close liquor outlets whose licenses were issued contrary to the provisions of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, especially those within residential areas and around educational institutions.

They lamented that over 100 bars that were indefinitely closed down in the Sub-county by the National Government Administration Officers, have relevant licenses and were within commercial areas and trading centers and do not fall under any of the restricted areas or infringe on other regulations.

The business community under the auspices of Nakuru Bar Owners Association (NBOA), have further indicated that there was need to differentiate between war on illicit brews and a blanket crackdown on legitimate business of beverages, which include alcohol.NBOA Chairman, Dr. Abdul Noor, emphasized that while the Association supports the fight against killer brews, drug and substance abuse, legitimate bars do not sell illicit substances, further asserting that the State Order, should not harass them unnecessarily.

“Legitimate bars do not sell illicit liquor or drugs, which is the real ‘elephant’ in the room,” stressed Dr. Noor.NBOA asked the two levels of government, to consider that businesses were still obligated to meet their commitments in terms of licensing, loan repayments, salaries, rent and leases, and the responsibilities of taking care of their families.

According to Dr. Noor the remedy to the fight against illicit brew is not shutting down businesses, but instead having a round table conversation with stakeholders on the industry’s best practices, public civic education, and establishment of an appropriate framework for effective and realistic enforcement approach, which helps in achieving remarkable compliance rate within the industry.”Bar owners do not manufacture alcohol.

The efforts should be directed on ensuring whether the products sold in our premises have met the required standards. We are on record supporting government’s efforts to fight illicit brews in the country,” noted the Chairman.Dr. Noor admitted that regulating bars and restaurants, wines and spirits and distributors, would contribute a great deal towards ensuring that the already existing laws were being adhered to.

“Bars in Kenya employ over 250,000 people who in most cases earn a daily wage. Closing them will render these people jobless, jeopardize their support for over two million livelihoods and directly lead to social unrest. Ultimately this could potentially result in social anarchy, as has already been witnessed in other parts of the world,” the Chairman observed.

He said most bars are in the category of Small and Medium Enterprises and were mostly owned and operated by women, and employed thousands of youths. Closing them indiscriminately would also push drinkers in the direction of illicit alcohol, which would compound the problem, he added.

“We call upon our authorities to exercise soberness and fairness when calling for the withdrawal of legitimate licenses and enforcement of compliance,” the Chairman appealed.

The Association’s sentiments come after the State announced new far-reaching measures, aimed at eradicating illicit brews, drugs and substance abuse in the country.

The Government, among other measures, suspended with immediate effect, licenses and certification permits for second-generation alcohol and alcoholic beverage distillers and manufacturers, issued by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS).All existing valid licenses will be vetted afresh within 21 days of the directive, with premises approved to resume operations, only upon receipt of fresh approval.

NBOA Vice Chairman, Mr. Alex Ng’ethe, noted that there were national standards set and established laws for one to be licensed to operate a bar and restaurant and, adding that when one has met the standards, he ought to be allowed to engage in a legitimate business.

He said the closure of their businesses has led to a lot of suffering, as many of them relied on the investment for school fees and welfare of their families.

Ng’ethe stated that the crackdown should focus on illicit brewers and second-generation liquor, rather than harassing legitimate businesses.He called on police and local administrators, to reconsider the move to close legitimate outlets.

“We have suffered a lot through the ongoing crackdown. What worries us is that it is happening on even legal outlets, yet we have paid licenses,” he lamented.

The Vice Chairman claimed that the regulations and directive by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Interior Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Kithure Kindiki, were being misused by a section of individuals, to harass and extort bribes from genuine businessmen.

Ms. Caroline Kamau, a bar owner, stated that the Association wanted to be involved in the fight against illicit brews, since they have the intelligence reports on how wealthy businessmen in connivance with influential politicians, sneaked into the country contraband methanol through porous border lines.She claimed that some rogue elements within the various State agencies charged with curbing the sale and consumption of illicit alcohol, not only leaked information to manufacturers of the killer brews on possible raids, but also hid crucial information from their bosses, to shield culprits and literally sabotage officers willing to crack the whip on illicit drinks.

Ms. Kamau indicated that the fight against the illicit alcohol in the country must be fought by all the sectors, including the County governments, who were currently issuing licenses.

According to Mr. Samuel Mwaura, another bar owner, noted that closure of bars will have a significant and negative impact on the liquor and hospitality sector, saying bars employ over two million people nationwide.

“Lest we forget that the liquor, food and beverage (hospitality) industry, employ at least two million employees directly in Nairobi alone, and 10 times more are indirect beneficiaries, which includes suppliers, service providers, boda bodas, cabs, and many more and also tremendously contributes to the country’s economic growth,” he said.

Courtesy; KNA

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