Kenya to solve its alcohol problem with ‘one bar per town’ plan

Kenyan Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua recently instructed county administrations in the Mt. Kenya region to issue licences for just one bar and one restaurant each town. He took the step in an effort to rein in the region’s out-of-control alcohol use. 

Alcoholism has been a problem in the Mt. Kenya region. A Kenyan government poll revealed that 12 out of 40 persons who consumed alcohol were from the central area, with the remaining coming from other regions of the country.

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Gachagua attributed the rise in the region’s illegal brew industry to the provincial government. “Bar and restaurants should be given one per town. The rest should be closed and operate in the evening from 5 pm to 11 pm. We cannot watch our children being killed by illicit brews when there are administrators. We want the chiefs to help us make sure we bring this to an end,” said the Deputy President.

Nyandarua County Women Representative Faith Gitau claimed that individuals have turned to producing their own counterfeit brands. Only 600 of the 2,600 bars and other alcohol-sales businesses that are now open are licenced to sell alcohol in Nyandarua County as of late last year, local media reported. 

“We should stop focusing on the seller of the illicit brew but also on their source in order to deal with the problem once and for all,” Gitau said adding, “The county administration should also wake up and relook on the issue of licensing to reduce the numbers of outlets and control the alcohol being sold.”

Governor Moses Kiarie Badilisha also said his office would review the rules controlling the issuing of licences to restrict the number of alcohol stores. He claimed that the alcohol menace has led to a breakdown in social order.

“I will not relent in fighting against alcohol, drugs, and substance abuse within Nyandarua County and I’m deploying all laws and policies which address the menace. It is no longer tenable to address the liquor licensing as merely a social and revenue issue, but one that’s now touching on the very survival of our youth and potential of our county to develop and sustain a functional population,” said Badilisha. 

However, not many Kenyans are liking the one pub one town policy. “Even if they shut down all these bars, we will still drink,” a Charles Ngugi told BBC. “This is not cheap or illegal liquor, so why do they want to interfere with my lifestyle and my party mood?” 


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