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Kenya cracks down on illegal alcohol

Over 18,000 bars and distilleries have been closed in the last month as part of an ongoing campaign

The Kenyan government has defended a controversial campaign to close thousands of illegal bars and breweries across the country as part of an ongoing crackdown on alcoholism and substance abuse.

Kenyan Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has insisted that the government won’t give up the fight to reign in the illicit alcohol trade.

“Some people want to fight the President, Interior CS Kithure Kindiki and myself. It is okay but we’re telling them to brace themselves for a fight because we will shut down all those distilleries and bars,” he claimed.

Since launching a new initiative on March 6, the government has closed over 18,000 establishments and destroyed brewing equipment. Interior Cabinet Secretary (CS) Kithure Kindiki has insisted that the government retains the authority to cancel licenses and that any paperwork issued in violation of the country’s 2010 Alcoholic Drinks Control Act is invalid.

The nationwide law enforcement initiative has resulted in 258 suspects being apprehended and brought to court. Additionally, 15 kilograms of cannabis have been confiscated, and 22 pharmacies have been closed.

The authorities have also closed approximately 5,000 liquor outlets and revoked their licenses due to their proximity to educational institutions and churches. A local news agency reported on Sunday that the town of Karatina in Nyeri has prohibited alcohol outright.

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FILE PHOTO: Kithure Kindiki, Cabinet Secretary for Interior & National Administration
Kenya calls time on late drinking

The campaign has proven controversial, with regional governors protesting Nairobi’s move to close bars operating with locally-granted licenses. 

The introduction of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act in 2010 put in place stringent enforcement measures, including the regulation of drinking hours in bars, rigorous licensing requirements, and severe penalties. However, these laws have been openly flaunted since their introduction. 

Kindiki recently announced further penalties for bars which keep their doors open past normal operating hours.  

In Kenya, regulations dictate that bars are permitted to operate from 5pm to 11pm on weekdays and from 2pm to 11pm on weekends, but the laws were not strictly policed.

March 26, 2024 at 08:18PM

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