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State told to target substandard liquor manufacturers in crackdown

Bar owners in Murang’a want the government to target manufacturers of illicit and substandard brews urging that the ongoing crackdown on retailers of such products was unfair to their business.

The traders who met in Murang’a town on Friday said the closing of local bars will not bear fruits in the fight to eliminate the poisonous and illicit alcoholic drinks.

Led by their chairman Simon Njoroge, the bar owners decried the closure of their businesses for no genuine reasons, alluding the move may sabotage their investments which play a key role in the economy of the country.

They said they have complied with the law and what the government needs to deal with is the sources of the brews which are affecting people.

“In Murang’a we don’t manufacture liquor. Most alcoholic drinks we get from Nairobi and they have all requirements to be stocked on shelves and sold to people. Now the closing of legal bars, what impact will it have in this war?” posed Njoroge.

He narrated that the Bar Owners Association is fully behind the crackdown on illicit brews and narcotic substances but asked those involved not to close down bars with valid licenses.

“In a week about 40 percent of bars in Murang’a have been closed down. These enterprises had employed thousands of locals and after those arrested were charged in court, most of them were released since they had no cases to answer.

“My appeal to the interior cabinet secretary is more focus to be directed where the killer brews are coming from and curtail those manufacturing the substandard and illicit brews. As bar owners we cannot support the selling of something hazardous,” he added.

Njoroge who is also the national chairperson of bar owners said they will seek an audience with CS Kithure Kindiki and give their input on how the war against killer brews can be successful.

“Bar owner’s association draws members from 42 counties and we want all the county chairpersons to meet with the cabinet secretary for the Ministry of Interior so we give our views. People have invested hugely in restaurants and bars and we want their businesses which are legally established, protected,” he stated.

On his part, Kamande Mwangi chairman of bar owners in Maragua said licensing of liquor is under county government.

He requested the war against alcoholism to also involve county governments saying every county has its issues which the local county assembly can handle by legislating laws to eliminate killer brews.

“The liquor problems in Murang’a are not like those in Mombasa or any other county. Generalizing the war on illicit brews may be unsuccessful if the input of devolved units which are mandated to license bars are not taken into consideration.” He noted.

Speaking in the same forum, Jubilee party secretary general Jeremiah Kioni said the government has a responsibility to ensure products used to make alcoholic drinks are safe.

He said the government licenses manufacturers of alcohol and relevant agencies should ensure products supplied to bars are safe for human consumption.

“As lawyers, we will help where necessary to ensure legally established bars are not closed down. The war on illicit brews should not be a way to sabotage the economy since scores of people have invested heavily in these businesses. The target should be who is manufacturing and supplying killer brews,” added the former Ndaragwa MP.

By Bernard Munyao and Purity Mugo

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