Government revokes all liquor licences in tough measures to control sale, taking of brews

Police raid a bar during a multi-agency sting operation led by NACADA in Kayole, Nairobi. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The government yesterday swung a blow on manufacturers and retailers of liquor as it suspended all licences.

Consequently, the government released a raft of new tough measures which it hopes will help control the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol.

In radical directives, all licences and certification permits for second-generation alcohol distillers and manufacturers have been revoked.

All licences and permits issued by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) have also been suspended with immediate effect.

The details are contained in a statement released from Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's office that also directs that fresh vetting of all existing valid licences be done within 21 days.

The orders were announced following a meeting attended by county and national government officials, including top security officers from the Kenya Police Service, Administration Police Service and Directorate of Criminal Investigations at the DP's Karen office.

And now, manufacturing and distilling premises will remain closed and subjected to fresh vetting. They will only resume operations after receiving new approvals.

The statement from Gachagua's office also mandates all alcohol manufacturers to establish and document details of all traders in the distribution chain for traceability.

“Fresh licence applications shall require manufacturers to have Quality Control (QC) laboratories installed with Gas Chromatography with Flame Ionization Detector (FID),” reads the statement.

The government has also directed that all alcoholic products shall include traceability information, including manufacturer details, location and content. 

"All manufacturers aware of counterfeits of their products and fail to report to the Anti-Counterfeit Authority on the same shall be deemed complicit,” reads the statement.

In addition, all public officers have been barred from operating bars directly or through proxies.

Those currently operating such premises have been directed to shut them down or resign from the service with immediate effect.

According to the statement, landlords and premise owners renting out space for the establishment of bars or wines and spirits outlets in prohibited areas shall be held liable for facilitating the trade.

The directives come at a time when cases of loss of lives are on the rise in the country due to the persisting consumption of illicit brew. Last month, Kandongu village in Kirinyaga County lost 20 lives and several others were left blind after drinking poisonous alcohol.

Licensed manufacturers will also be required to furnish county security teams with the geo-location and physical details of their premises, as well as stock records.

In an effort to avert the production of alcohol using industrial ethanol, the Kenya Bureau of Standards has been directed to denature all industrial ethanol or mark it with a denaturing agent within 45 days.