Members of the Embu County Assembly have extended alcohol consumption hours in the region. They want bars to open at 3pm and close at 11pm from Monday to Friday to curb proliferation of illicit liquors. Normally, bars open from 5pm to 11pm.
In an amendment to the Embu County Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill, 2019, County Assembly Trade Committee Chairman Lenny Mwaniki also recommended sale and consumption of alcohol 24 hours a day, seven days a week in hotels, lodges, restaurants, members’ clubs and lodges.
Mr Mwaniki, who is also the MCA for Kiambere Ward, said his committee had carefully considered the changes.
During weekends and gazetted public holidays, bars will sell alcohol from 11am to 11pm.
Evurore MCA Duncan Mbui said opening bars at 3pm would give government agencies, who often work until 5pm, an opportunity to inspect the quality of alcohol brands sold in the region.
He said the county government enforcement officers will also have an opportunity to scrutinise business permits.
Mbeti North MCA Peter Murithi said extension of drinking hours would reduce consumption of illicit brews.
Majority Leader Michael Njeru said it was fair to allow investors in the liquor industry to do business for longer hours since their licences were more expensive than other trading permits.
The Kithimu MCA said the reduction of alcohol consumption hours killed legitimate businesses which employ many people.
Mwea MCA Harrison Mwaluko said the liquor sector, being a major employer in the county, should be protected.
Muminji MCA Newton Kariuki urged those opposed to the extension of drinking hours to provide alternative employment opportunities to jobless youths.
Nominated MCA Rose Kinyua wondered why the sale of muguka, a stimulant, was not restricted as is the case with alcohol.
She said imposing stringent conditions on the sale and consumption of liquor gave muguka dealers an unfair advantage over alcohol sellers.
An amendment by Nominated MCA Margaret Lorna Kariuki to maintain the official drinking hours at between 5pm and 11pm from Monday to Friday and 2pm and 11 pm during weekends was defeated.
Ms Kariuki had also suggested that hotels and restaurants be restricted to sell alcohol from 4pm to 11pm.