- Kenyan officials to permit one pub per town to curb alcohol abuse in the country.
- Critics have argued that the government has the wrong priorities because pubs offer venues for people to socialize, pay taxes, and support national development.
- Shutting down pubs will not solve the problem; more people will turn to traditional beer from illegal brewers.
The deputy president of Kenya has advocated for county governments across the country to only permit one pub per town in an effort to curb alcohol abuse in the country. This comes after the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Addiction said it has been troubled by the proliferation of bars and the pervasiveness of illicit brews in central Kenya.
According to experts, a whole generation could be lost if nothing is done to address the problem. For those who are already impacted, change is desperately needed. However, not everyone agrees that this is a good idea. Critics have argued that it's too soon to talk about closing down bars. What standards do you apply while closing down businesses? What statistics support this assertion that formal bars are the root causes of the problem?
Drinkers have also criticized the idea; one, Charles Ngugi, stated that "Even if they close down all these bars, we will still drink." "This is not cheap or illegal liquor, so why do they want to interfere with my lifestyle and my party mood?" He added.
Many commentators in the area have argued that shutting down bars will not help solve the problem. Mr. Ngugi stated that "more people like me will turn to traveling down the river to obtain changaa, the traditional regional beer, if pubs like these are shut down." Riverbanks have always been used by illegal brewers to produce changaa. Water is readily available, and the majority of the time it is challenging for the police to get to the brewing dens.
One resident of the central province, Rosemary Kimani, 58, has firsthand knowledge of the effects of alcohol use. She claims that alcohol abuse caused her husband's death. She stated that "the river and these bars will be the end of us all." "In Kiunyu village, you won't see many young people working; they simply get up and go to pubs to drink; young men no longer have interest in having girlfriends and merely drink and sleep all day; how are we going to have grandkids?" she continues.
Central Kenya is confronting what the government warns is an alcohol and drug epidemic. The authorities claim there is a problem, which they attribute to the proliferation of unlicensed bars and pubs as well as the availability of inexpensive, illegal brews. The area has a lot of drinking establishments, and according to the Muranga County Authority, the number of bars and stores selling wine and spirits has increased significantly.
Liquor licenses are now the most sought-after business permits in the country. However, Vice President Gachagua has decided to deal with this issue decisively. He stated that "county governors must know that licensing every outlet to be a bar or restaurant is ruining an entire generation, and that is not right."
The central government aims to restrict the sale of alcohol to the hours between 17:00 and midnight at all locations where it is offered. Although there is some evidence that licenses are increasingly not being renewed, drinking establishments have not yet been closed down in large numbers.
However, owners of bars and restaurants claim that by focusing on legitimate enterprises, the government has the wrong priorities. Simon Mwangi Njoroge, national chairman of the Bar Owners Association, claims that the issue is not with bars and pubs because they offer venues for people to socialize, pay taxes to support national development, and employ tens of thousands of people. "In the central region alone, we have roughly 17,000 businesses employing a workforce of 100,000 people."
He added that "we sincerely want to address alcoholism and its detrimental impacts on society, but we must use extreme caution when making snap decisions." He suggested the idea of having many rehab facilities in the area; however, the few facilities that were set up by local charities and the church have been expensive and out of reach for many addicts.