Members of Bar and restaurant owners’ association in Murang’a want the government to reduce the fee for testing of covid-19 among their workers.
The liquor traders claimed that up to now there is no clear information about testing of the workers and some hospitals are charging exorbitant prices.
In a press conference on Monday, the bar owners led by their Chairman, Simon Njoroge, appealed to the government to reduce the price to less than Sh. 2, 000 so as their workers can be tested as demanded by the government before they are allowed to operate.
Njoroge said since March, the liquor industry was hugely affected by the covid-19 pandemic and many people who have invested in the sector are counting losses.
The restaurant owners also called for a reduction of price for thermos guns which are required to test temperatures of their customers.
He said apart from those who sell food that were allowed to operate recently, those who sell beer were forced to dispose most of their liquor after reaching expiry dates.
“We are requesting the government to come to our help as we have been incurring huge losses. With all that, we also expected to take our workers for testing which is levied exorbitantly,” decried Njoroge.
The liquor sector, he added, had almost 10, 000 people employed in Murang’a but currently the workers have remained jobless since coronavirus was detected in the country.
“Recent measures to ease some conditions announced by the health Cabinet Secretary, Mutahi Kagwe like increase time to operate up to 7.30 pm we have welcomed them but we also request bars to be allowed to sell take away even if it’s for one hour”, appealed Njoroge.
He said most people who worked in bars and restaurants have been reduced to beggars as they cannot afford basic needs for their families.
“We request for a consultative meeting with relevant stakeholders in effort to map a way forward on how we can be allowed to operate and observe guidelines given to contain spread of coronavirus,” he added.
Speaking during the same occasion, another member of the association, George Kariuki said since closure of their businesses, some people have had their property auctioned after failing to service their loans.
Kariuki said the sector has been contributing to the county’s economy especially through payment of taxes and thus there is a need for those who have invested in the liquor industry to be assisted by the government.
Meanwhile, the bar owners said the government decision to increase taxes levied on keg liquor could lead to reemergence of illicit brews.
Some revelers who cannot afford bottled beer opted to take keg liquor but with proposed 40 percent tax increase will make them go back to consuming illicit beers.
The bar owners appealed to the government to do away with the proposed increment of tax levied to keg liquor so as to save people from second generation alcoholic drinks.
By Bernard Munyao