Embu Members of County Assembly have increased the alcohol consumption time by two hours on weekends to check the proliferation of illicit brews.
The ward reps amended Embu County Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2019, by revising the official drinking hours in the county from 5 pm to 3 pm from Monday to Friday.
Bars will now be required to sell alcohol from 11am to 11pm during weekends and gazetted public holidays. This is in contrast to the National Alcoholics Drinks and Control Act, which stipulates drinking hours from 5 pm to 11 pm on weekdays and 2 pm to 11 pm on weekends and public holidays.
The County Assembly Trade Committee chaired by Lenny Masters Mwaniki also recommended the sale and consumption of alcohol 24 hours a day, seven days a week in hotels, lodges, restaurants, members’ clubs and travelers’ lodges.
Mwaniki who is the Assembly Minority Leader said the changes were carefully considered by his committee.
Supermarkets, wines and spirits outlets will be open to selling alcohol from 10 am to 8.30 pm while nightclubs and discotheques are now authorised to sell liquor from 2 pm to 3 am.
Theatres have been permitted to sell alcohol from 4 pm to 11 pm.
However, an amendment by nominated MCA Margaret Lorna Kariuki to maintain the official drinking hours between 5 pm to 11 pm from Monday to Friday, and 2 pm to 11 pm during weekends was defeated.
Evurore MCA Duncan Mbui argued that opening bars at 3 pm would give government agencies time for inspecting the cleanliness of drinking dens and checking the quality of liquor sold because such officers perform their duties up to 5 pm.
“The county enforcement officers will also have an opportunity to scrutinise business permits early in the day,” he said.
Mbeti North MCA Peter Murithi pointed out that an increase in drinking hours was not condoning alcohol abuse, but was a way of rescuing the idle youth who do menial jobs at urban centres from illicit liquor.
Likewise, Nominated MCA Bernard Kandia argued that even if bar opening hours were pushed to 6 pm, people would still consume of illicit liquor.
Majority Leader Michael Njeru stated that it was only fair to allow investors in liquor dens to do business for longer hours because their licenses were more expensive than those of any other trading permits.
Nominated MCA Rose Kinyua wondered why Muguka, despite being a stimulant, was not restricted to specific chewing hours as is the case with alcohol.
“Imposing stringent limits to sale and consumption of liquor gives miraa dealers an unfair advantage over alcohol sellers, yet both were legitimate businesses,” she observed.
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