Kihika assents to Bill in renewed fight against alcoholism

An area administrator throws away plastic tanks used to store methanol during a previous crackdown of all second-generation liquor within Nakuru County. [File, Standard]

The fight against alcoholism received a major boost after Governor Susan Kihika assented to the Nakuru County Alcoholic Drinks (Amendment) Bill 2023.

Kihika said that the Bill removes the ambiguities in the previous Act that impeded the fight against illicit alcohol.

The governor also assented to the Nakuru County Revenue Allocation (Amendment) Bill.

She said alcoholism is rampant in the county hence the need to regulate the trade.

“My government recognizes that if alcohol is not controlled, it can lead to a breakdown in social order. Whereas we acknowledge that liquor licensing is one of the major revenue streams for the county, the well-being and survival of our people is of equally paramount importance,” she said.

Kihika emphasised that it is the responsibility of the national and county governments to protect the public from harmful effects of production, sale, and consumption of alcoholic drinks.

The governor said the new law will allow the County Executive Committee Member in charge of Alcoholic Drinks and relevant departments to zone different regions within the county.

The law gives the CEC for Trade, Tourism, Cooperatives, and Industrialisation powers to determine areas where alcoholic drinks can be sold in line with the national provision that prohibits operation of bars, pubs and wines and spirits in areas within 300 metres radius from schools, residential areas, and health institutions.

Kihika said this will help fight against alcoholism.

The governor noted that the new law has also streamlined the administration of revenue accruing from liquor licensing by requiring that the monies be deposited in the County Revenue Fund in compliance with Section 109 of the Public Finance Management Act.

She said the law is crucial in the allocation of development funds to wards.

The governor announced that the equal share revenue for every ward has also been increased from Sh17 million to Sh20 million.

“I promised to rationalise and increase the specific portion of the County Annual Budget that is devoted to the 55 wards across the county for purposes of financing development projects, and to a great extent, impact on the levels of poverty indices in each ward. This financial year, the revenue allocation towards ward projects is Sh1.65 billion and is composed of 25 per cent of equitable shares and county local collection revenues,” she said.

Nakuru County Trade CECM Stephen Muiruri said the new laws will improve service delivery to the people.

Muiruri regretted that in the past they had challenges enforcing the law and now law enforcement has been devolved to the sub-counties.

He assured that the county government is not fighting liquor traders but the people breaking the law.

The CECM said the county will continue creating an enabling business environment for the traders.

Bar Owners Association CEO Boniface Gachoka noted that in Nakuru county they have 3,000 members.

Gachoka said they have employed more than 12,000 people. He urged the government not to address everyone as an illicit liquor trader saying the association represents registered traders who pay taxes.

He admitted that bar owners are also disadvantaged by illicit liquor traders.

Gachoka said the good working relationship between the government and the registered traders will help in the war against illicit brew.

“There is a national conversation on the fight against illicit brew. We support the implementation of the government policy on controlled and fight against illicit brew,” he said.

He said the war against illicit brew cannot be won without the involvement of the bar owners.