Pain and agony as “Wamunyota” face Waititu’s alcohol lockout.


Beer and liquor fanatics on Thursday got a rude shock as the immediate implementation of the Kiambu Alcoholic Drinks Control Amendment Bill 2018 took effect, just a day after it was signed into law by Governor Ferdinand Waititu.

All liquor outlets within the county were ordered shut, locking out ‘thirsty wamunyotas’ from their favourite drinks forthwith.

A tour round Thika Town and its environs revealed that no bar or wines and spirits outlets opened its doors for patrons and those that did open, no activity took place other than stranded bar attendants conversing in low tones, probably pondering the next move after the shutdown.

‘Thirsty’ revelers could be spotted hanging around their favourite pubs hoping for a ‘miracle’ to happen to enable them quench their irresistible thirst for the fermented hops.

Youth who frequent the wines and spirits joints were the worst hit by this shutoff. Previously, they would just pop in any time of the day or night and purchase their preferred “take aways” but this time, none of them was open. Some were overheard saying that they were very willing to buy it at even double the price to enable them “toa lock”.

Beer lovers could not understand why regular bars could be locked considering the fact the products sold were legit and being operated via the laid down laws.

“How can you close down a bar whose operations are within the laws of this land? You cannot force us all to drink tea and sodas just for personal reasons. If someone has an issues with bars, let him go and shutdown East African Breweries and convert all these premises into churches if he so wishes,” one of the disappointed beer lover reacted angrily after the bar attendant told him that she could not serve him his favourite beer for fear of being the first casualty of the new law.

Bar owners who talked in camera for fear of being victimised accused the county government of being draconian in its operations, saying that they never considered their plight as entrepreneurs before enforcing this law.

The bar owners feared that they would run into massive losses, leading to so many job losses.

“They never gave us time. This law has just been rushed and now they are pushing in into our throats without considering the losses we are incurring due to the closure,” said one trader.

“Majority of us are servicing loans accrued from our investments. Some of these alcohol delivered has not yet been paid for notwithstanding that we have rent and bills to settle. How does he (Waititu) expect us to pay all this if our businesses are nonoperational?” he questioned.

They contemplated going to court to seek redress over the matter.

(Related story: Kiambu Assembly passes the Alcoholic and Water Bills into law.)

No bar had been paying licence fees since Waititu took over. Bar owners will have to reapply for licences through the sub-county alcohol committees. The teams will hold public hearings so residents can approve or disapprove the licensing of bars.

The law, among many other provisions, limits nightclub operations from 2pm to 3am on weekends and has abolished retailing of wine and spirits.

It also makes it illegal for any person who takes his favourite drink to be found drunk and wobbling on the road, near a shop or any other public place.

The new law prohibits any person aged below 21 years from drinking alcohol or even gaining access to a bar and bans the manufacture, distribution, storage, or offer for sale any illicit brew or any drink that has been adulterated or diluted.

Kiambu County ordered for immediate closure of all bars on Thursday, March 8 after Governor Ferdinand Waititu assented to the new law and demanded operators to apply for fresh licences.

The governor has already commissioned a team of 79 enforcement officers who will spearhead the crackdown on all those who will contravene these laws.

Yesterday, Governor Waititu went to court seeking orders to stop bar operators within the county from renewing their licenses pending the hearing and determination of a suit.


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