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Mombasa Bar owners protest 2020 license fees

By Joackim Bwana | March 1st 2021

Member of Mombasa County Bar owners Association during an interview (PHOTO; Omondi Onyago)

MOMBASA, KENYA: Bar owners in Mombasa on Monday protested the county government's move to enforce the payment of liquor licenses for the year 2020, saying their businesses remained closed for the better part of that year.

The bar operators umbrella body said Mombasa County should waive the license fees to cushion them from adverse economic impacts of Covid-19.

Mombasa Bar Owners Association said the county is demanding a license fee of Sh55, 000 for small bar operators for the 2020 license before they can apply for the 2021 liquor license.

According to the association, this means that the small scale bar operators will have to cough Sh110,000, the fee for 2020 and 2021 before they are allowed to operate.

The Association Secretary Kennedy Mumbo also want the nationwide curfew lifted saying it had negatively affected their business and ability to pay loans and feed and educate their families.

“We want the President to remove the curfew because our line of business cannot operate for only four hours. You cannot open a bar at 5 PM and close at 9 PM and expect to make a profit out of the sales,” said Mumbo.

He said the county had inflated the fees for small bars from sh. 18,000 charged in 2019 to Sh55,000 in 2020.

Mumbo said the online system is programmed in a manner that one has to pay for the 2020 license before paying for the 2021 license.

“The online system is programmed in a manner that one has to pay for the 2020 license before paying for the 2021 license. Truly that is expensive, we cannot afford it,” said Mumbo.

The Organizing Secretary Francis Kibutho said bar owners were unable to pay for the 2020 license because there was a case in court challenging the act used by the county to charge them license fees.

Kibutho said the county later withdrew the act before the year ended.

Mumbo said police were arresting bar operator across the county demanding that they produce the 2020 liquor license.

“Bar operators are being arrested in Bamburi, Jomvu, Changamwe and Island because they are yet to pay for the 2020 license,” said Mumbo.

The traders said that it is unfair because their businesses were closed throughout last year due to Corona and the curfew gazetted by President Uhuru Kenyatta has continued to hurt their businesses.

“The president issued directives that we close down bars as a way of fighting the Corona Pandemic. Notwithstanding, when we go to apply for the 2021 license, we are told we have to pay for the 2020 license first,” said Mumbo.

The Association wants Joho to intervene and address the issue because they were all affected like any other business and sectors in the economy.

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