By Boniface Gikandi
Murang’a, Kenya: Rogue liquor traders in Murang’a County might have to part with a Sh2 million fine or serve a five-year jail term in default, or both.
The traders will also pay for licenses to the tune of Sh1 million if they import more than a million litres of alcohol per year while those who deal with less than 999,999 litres will be charged Sh500,000.
This comes after the County Assembly in Murang’a was charged t0 formulate laws and policies that will guide the sector and help to reclaim the county’s lost glory. For years the county has been seen as a hub for alcohol consumption.
Professionals in the area have drafted the Murang’a County Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill, Licensing Regulations 2013, which seeks to streamline production, sale, consumption of alcohol and inform the establishment of a rehabilitation fund for alcoholics.
The Bill tabled before the House by Deputy Speaker Moses Gachui on behalf of the residents affiliated to Murang’a County Initiative (MCI) also proposes that those who sell liquor to underage consumers are to face a Sh150,000 fine or serve a jail term not exceeding 12-months.
If the Bill is endorsed by the County Assembly it will compel traders to demand identity cards, passports or other recognised documents that the executive would state to help verify the age of revellers, so as to prevent students from indulging in alcoholism.
The retailers are mandated to display notices in English and Kiswahili indicating that sale of alcohol to underage people is prohibited by law.
Investors are also supposed to sell liquor packed in sachets not less than 250 millilitres for fortified or distilled spirits. Other measures that the Bill focuses on are limiting liquor outlets to 300 metres from learning institutions.
And operators who sell liquor to police officers in uniform commit an offence that attracts a fine not exceeding Sh50,000 or three months imprisonment.
The Bill has set operating hours of bars to between 5pm and 11pm during working days, while on the weekends they will operate between 2pm and 11pm.
Mr Peter Munga a member of the MCI said the Assembly should critically discuss the Bill so as to bring sanity in the liquor business.
“We want to have the legislation to help fast-track development programmes as liquor has been a contributing factor to the dragging rate of development and declining standards of education,” said Munga. The Bill also calls for formation of a review committee which will be charged with addressing concerns raised by liquor operators whose licences have been withdrawn, have failed to reach the renewal threshold or whose premises are found in unhealthy conditions.