Open liquor stores, bar owners demand as vetting deadline for licenses lapses

 

A KRA officer inspects alcoholic drinks in Nairobi, Embakasi Sub-county to fish out businesses with no health and operating licenses. [File, Standard]

Bar owners across the country have demanded immediate reopening of their businesses following the lapse of vetting deadline of operating licenses and permits.

But Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki said only two out of 29 of the liquor manufacturers and distillers have been cleared to resume production. 

This means that 27 manufacturers and distillers will not resume operations as they failed the vetting test. 

In a statement, the CS also said that another three entities may also be allowed to resume operations following a vetting process that was carried out by a multi-agency committee tasked to ensure full compliance.

“Twenty-four (24) entities remain suspended up to and until all the compliance issues are satisfactorily addressed within twenty-one (21) days effective Monday, April 8, 2024,” Kindiki said. 

The Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya (Perak) yesterday criticised the government for failing to issue clear directions one week after the 21-day deadline lapsed.

PERAK national chairperson Michael Muthami said the government has sat on their livelihoods, accusing the enforcement officers of harassing their members who have complied with the new policies regarding liquor trade.

“Traders within the sector continue to bear the brunt of harassment from County Security Agencies who have taken advantage of the confusion to constantly harass our members in the guise that they are implementing a government directive.

“The impact of this has been loss of income and livelihoods to the thousands of people who depend on our establishments to make ends meet,” said Muthami, adding that liquor traders have become ‘collateral damage’ as they do not participate in the manufacture of the liquor products. 

On March 6, the government issued a raft of radical measures to curb the production, distribution and consumption of illicit brews in the country. 

The 25 directives issued by Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki included suspension of all licenses for second generation alcohol and alcoholic beverage manufactures and distillers. 

While announcing the new measures, Kindiki declared that the vetting process of the permits that immediately commenced would take 21 days and be completed by 27, last month.

“We have not heard any information from the government regarding the outcome of this vetting process,” said Muthami. “We are calling on the government to make public the findings of the vetting process and also provide adequate time frame for businesses to engage manufacturers to recall the products said to be suspended, with compensation to the bar owners.”

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