Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru has declared there will be no turning back in cracking down on liquor outlets operating in the county without licenses.
The Governor who emphasized that the crackdown that started a week ago will go on until all operators are compliant noted that there have been cartels who have been misleading bar owners against paying taxes.
Waiguru made the remarks yesterday in Mwea shortly after launching an accelerated roads rehabilitation program for Mwea Rice Irrigation Scheme. She said that since the crackdown began, the county has collected Sh19 million in unpaid taxes from bar owners.
The governor said her administration was keen on listening to and addressing grievances by traders with the aim of forging harmony, adding that some of the issues raised by traders will be addressed through a proposed bill to be tabled soon in the County Assembly.
“Bar owners should not allow themselves to be misled by some of their officials who, do not own business in Kirinyaga,” she said, adding she is aware that the chair of bar owners’ association in Kirinyaga has been pushing for non-payment of licenses despite not owning any bar in the county.
“When we close your premises, it is the individual trader who is going to lose business and clients and not the chairman,” Waiguru noted. She said bar traders have been comparing Kirinyaga County with the neighboring counties where they claim the licenses are low.
“If you think our taxes are exorbitant, you are free to move to the county of your choice and do your business there, but if you are operating in Kirinyaga, you must comply with the payment of taxes,” she said.
On Mwea Rice Irrigation Scheme roads rehabilitation, the Governor said that the program aims at achieving well-drained all-weather access roads within the scheme through the improvement of a total of 200 km of roads before the onset of the oncoming rains.
She said that the roads marked for rehabilitation have been identified in collaboration with Members of the County Assembly and Irrigation Water Users Association.
She said that the program is a collaboration between the County Executive, the County Assembly, The National Irrigation Authority (NIA) and the Irrigation Water Users Association (IWUA).
Some of the roads to be improved through the programme include Mahiga-ini-Mwathaini, Kiriko-Kamariandu and Nyamindi-Gathigiriri roads.
Waiguru underscored the need to carry out routine maintenance of roads within the scheme since many of them are rendered impassable due to overflow from water canals during the rainy seasons.
Mwea Irrigation Scheme comprises 30,600 acres of land under rice with farmers harvesting the main crop around November and the ratoon harvest mid-February.
She said that during her first tenure, the county government managed to improve more than 3000 roads across the county, noting that an improved rural roads network will help the county attain sustained local social economic development by opening up the rural areas and enabling farmers to transport their farm produce to the market.
By Irungu Mwangi