Advertisement

Bar operators put coronavirus lockdown losses at Sh1bn

Wednesday June 24 2020
Changaa

A beer mug. FILE PHOTO

By GEORGE MUNENE

Bar owners say they have incurred losses amounting to Sh1 billion in the past three months due to coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Bars, Hotels and Liquor Traders Association of Kenya chairman Simon Mwangi, the 54,000 traders have adversely been affected after the government ordered closure of their premises in March.

Already, the business owners have laid off workers while others fear that their property will be auctioned, having defaulted on loans repayment to expand their businesses.

Speaking at Mwea in Kirinyaga County after meeting bar owners from Mount Kenya region, Mr Mwangi expressed fears that the traders could be pushed out of business if urgent measures were not taken.

"The situation is of grave concern and we are urging the government to reopen bars whose owners have been reduced to paupers," he stated.

“Unless the government listens to our cry, the continuous closure of bars will kill the beer industry, which contributes enormously to the growth of the economy.”

Advertisement

Mr Mwangi also faulted the government’s decision to increase tax on sorghum used for brewing Keg beer.

He noted that the tax would lead to an increase in keg prices beyond the reach of most Kenyans, pushing them to toxic liquors that in the past have caused deaths and left some blind.

On Wednesday, the chairman of Ngurubani Business Community Antony Mucheke accused the government of discriminating against the bar owners.

“Other businesses have been reopened as bars remain closed. This is discrimination of the highest order yet we pay taxes to the government,” he added.

Mr Mucheke also lamented that it was too expensive for bar owners to comply with the requirement that all their workers be tested for Covid-19.

“We pay between Sh3,000 and Sh6,000 to have one employee tested, which is very high for bar traders. The government should move in and ensure our employees are tested free of charge," he said.

Restaurants are slowly returning to business on strict conditions, including the testing of workers and meeting tight hygiene conditions.

They have been allowed to operate up to 7.30pm from the previous 4pm when they reopened.

Advertisement