Meru bar owners and those in the alcohol selling sector during a public participation on the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2023. They rejected the bill saying it was preliminary and basic compared to the County Alcoholic Drinks Control Act. Photo. MPC Reporter

Meru County bar owners have rejected the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2023, saying it was being imposed on them.

The traders’ association members and those in the alcohol selling sector argued that the bill that was presented to them for public participation was preliminary and basic compared to the County Alcoholic Drinks Control Act.

Dr Mbaabu Muguna the director Meru county alcoholic drinks control board said the bill was incomparable with the Act that was passed in 2014 and amended in 2017.

“The Act is accommodative but the current bill talks of creation of a committee which is quite elementary compared to a well established board. A board can be sued and it can also sue so it’s an entity as opposed to a committee that meets regularly to oversee issues,” said Muguna.

He added that, “the bill also reduces the powers of the county government whereas the alcohol business is a devolved function. That’s why wananchi have rejected it because it cannot work”.

The director observed that there are minimal illicit brew incidents that have been identified in Meru saying that there has been a regulated entry of alcoholic drinks into the county.

The law also proposes increase of fee paid by bar owners, without making business and profits considerations.

The association members also said that the bill seemed to have been done hurriedly to serve some individual interests and it was being imposed on them.

Meru Bar Owners Association chairman Ken Gitonga pointed fingers at Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua saying he was responsible for introduction of the bill without consultation with key stakeholders.

“The Deputy President said that he wants to fight illicit brews in Mt Kenya region but the bill does not constitute the same, rather it’s oppressing business people,” said Gitonga.

He noted that the business community will only support amendment of the Meru alcoholic drinks control Act that is already in place.

National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Meru chapter chairman Joshua Mungania on his part said that the bill should be taken to places where there is no established liquor regulation or control bill.

“We hear the bill is meant for central Kenya, but since we have our own Act, we don’t let need it. We have sent it back to the sender” said Mungania.

He also called on the Meru county assembly that conducted the public participation to take into consideration the concerns of the association members and the business community.


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