Kirinyaga bar selling brew had not been issued with operating license by county government

A liquor outlet blamed for selling illicit alcohol that caused death of six people at Kangai area of Kirinyaga county on Tuesday had no operating license.

County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Sports, Culture and Social Services Dennis Muciimi says the County Liquor Licensing Committee had reject application to license California Bar in December last year.

Six people are reported to have died while five others had lost eye sight after consuming the illicit brew at the bar. The brew is suspected to have been laced with ethanol.

Muciimi said the application for the bar license was rejected on basis of allegation of selling of illicit brew, insecurity and poor sanitation.

“This particular outlet was operating illegally; it had not been issued with license by the County government because of failing to comply with the County Alcoholic Drinks Control Act No. 3 of 2014 and all the requisite Regulations,” said Muciimi.

He said the county has a rigorous liquor licensing system meant to protect consumers of alcoholic drinks by ensuring fair and ethical business practices related to production, distribution, promotion and sale of alcoholic drinks.

The County Executive Committee Member of health, George Karoki said the five who had lost eye sight were being treated at Njegas Health Centre.

Karoki said the victims were brought at the hospital with symptoms of blurred vision which is an indication of cirrhosis and other nervous system problem.

“We are suspecting they could have taken an illicit brew with high content of ethanol; we know very well this kind of chemical will cause issues in the liver,” Karoki said.

He said among the deceased was a patient who had been taken to the Kerugoya County Referral Hospital but died on arrival. The rest of the victims are reported to have died at home.

“We have other unconfirmed reports from relatives of people who died at home and were taken directly to the mortuary,” Karoki added.

Mwea West Deputy County Commissioner Teresia Wanjiku said owner of the bar has been arrested and taken to court on several occasion for selling illicit brew and operating unlicensed liquoroutlet only to be released for lack of sufficient evidence.

Wanjiku said efforts by police to close down the bar have been frustrated by the court and the owner who is on the run has been having his way out.

“We arrested owner of this bar almost ten times and taken him to court and were planning to move our cases from Baricho law courts to Wang’uru because the suspect seems to always get a favourable judgement,” she said.

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