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New Alcoholic law hopes to tame unregulated alcohol consumption in county

Any beer manufacturer found distributing adulterated alcoholic drinks risks paying a fine of up to Sh 10 million or serve an imprisonment term not exceeding ten years or both.

This is according to the revised Nyeri Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill, 2023.

The new act which was assented to by Governor Mutahi Kahiga into law last week is an amended version of the Nyeri Alcoholic Drinks Control and Management Act,2014 which stands repealed.

 Article 7(b) of the act also spells out that any person who knowingly distributes an alcoholic drink that is adulterated shall be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh 2 million or an imprisonment term not exceeding two years or both.

 The law also prohibits the undertaking of any form of promotions or advertisements for alcoholic drinks and spells out a fine of up to Sh 500,000 for an offender or an imprison term not exceeding three years or both.

 Notable in the new act is a provision limiting the time of operation for those running wines and spirits shops.

The 11th schedule states that ‘a licensee shall not sell any alcoholic drink for consumption in the premises any time not earlier than 2 pm and not later than 8.30 pm’

 Local Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KNCCI) chair Mr. Ibrahim Maina says they are still analysing the new act and could not therefore comment on its contents.

 Maina however says as an entity that advocates for the welfare of traders, they will not hesitate to support the government in weeding out unscrupulous persons who have infiltrated in the alcohol sector.

“I would not wish to comment anything about the new legislation but I am still studying the provisions therein. The issue of alcoholism is a real problem in this country and therefore one needs caution before commenting on the subject to avoid being labelled as an impediment to the war against its consumption,” he told KNA.

But Patricia Njeri who operates a wine and spirit retail outlet within Nyeri town says while the act is entirely not bad, a directive by the County government not to license new licenses could be counterproductive.

She has admitted that proceeds from the wine and spirit business are quite good nowadays and therefore limiting the number of outlets in operation may not be to the interests of those intending to venture into the business.

“This new order by the County government to limit the number of wine and spirit outlets may not be in good faith as far as we are concerned. When the government freezes the licensing of new alcoholic outlets what happens to those who wish to expand their business?” she poses.

“If no new outlets will be allowed to come on board, we shall have shut out very many people who wish to venture into this trade and earn their living,” pointed out Njeri.

 On his part Harrison Kingori a matatu driver who plies the Nyeri-Ihururu route has welcomed the new law which he says will boost the war against uncontrolled drinking in the county.

He has however disagreed with a provision that limits the transfer of an alcoholic business outlet from one location to another terming the order discriminatory.

“What we are all fighting against is consumption of illicit alcohol in this country. But when doing this we need to be careful not to kill the legit businesses that have met the required standards. We cannot restrict the transfer of existing businesses to other areas if that is to the advantage of the trader and as long as he has followed the due process of the law. The government should in the meantime close down all liquor outlets being operated by their employees to avoid a conflict of interest,” he said.

Simon Maina Mwangi, a bodaboda rider in Nyeri town has welcomed the new measures to curb the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol in the county saying the vice had threatened the very fabric of the society to the core.

He has also supported the regulation on the number of new liquor outlets which he said would help control the uncontrolled mushrooming of unlicensed drinking dens.

 Mwangi also claims that some of the backstreet drinking joints are safe hiding dens for drug addicts since they are shielded from law enforcers and said he was in full support of a plan by the county government to take an audit of all bars and restaurants operating in the county.

“Let the County Government go ahead with its plan of undertaking an  a census on all licensed and operational bars with a view of rationalizing their growth. By doing this, it will be possible to weed out rogue traders who have turned the liquor business into a conduit to traffic drugs and other illicit substances,” states Mwangi.

Both the national and county governments have launched a sustained war against rampant consumption of illicit alcohol in the country which has been termed as a security concern for the nation.

Last month Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua announced the government’s commitment in the war to curb illicit brews in the country.

Gachagua revealed government plans to roll out multi-agency and multistakeholder measures to decisively deal with illicit brew, drugs and substance abuse in the country days after more than 20 people died after consuming illicit liquor in Kirinyaga.

“The government will not allow merchants of death to continue with the illegal business of illicit brew, drugs and other substances,” Gachagua stated.

By Samuel Maina and Molly Kendi

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