Vetting of bars commences in Kirinyaga as crackdown on illicit brews continue

County Government of Kirinyaga has kicked off vetting of all liquor outlets even as crackdown on sale and manufacture of illicit brews continue.

The exercise kicked off with physical inspection of bars by a multi-agency team drawn from National and County government in all the 20 wards.

During the vetting process, owners of liquor outlets are required to produce licenses for 2023 and approved application for 2024.

Other stringent conditions set out by the multi-agency team for re-opening of bars include compliance with the public health regulations, bars should not be near schools and places of worship. The outlets should also not have previous cases of non-compliance with liquor licensing regulations.

Apart from the National Government Administration, County Government officials and the police, the multi-agency team also includes Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Bureau of Standard (KEBS) Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA) officials among other.

County Executive Committee Member for Sports, Culture and Social Services Dennis Muciimi said the verification process will be done within shortest time possible so as to allow legitimate traders to resume business.

“These committees will conduct physical verification of all alcoholic outlets to determine whether an establishment meets the criteria of licenses as stipulated in Kirinyaga County Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, 2014,” he said.

Muciimi assured bar owners that the exercise will be done in an open and transparent manner to ensure those who have complied with liquor licensing regulations are allowed to reopen.

“We urge all alcoholic outlets owners to be physically present in their respective premises to pave way for verification exercise,” he added.

The CEC said the vetting team will visit all alcoholic drinks outlets in their respective wards to undertake the exercise.

He said bar owners who fail to show up for the exercise will be deemed to have exited the business.

On Saturday, Governor Anne Waiguru also said bars with previous cases of selling illicit alcohol and operating without licenses will not be allowed to re-open.

“Those bars that will be found to have been operating without license or had previous cases of selling unauthorized products will not be allowed to open again,” Waiguru said.

She said her administration will tighten regulatory check on manufacturers, distributors and sellers of alcoholic beverages to avert deaths in future.

“Sale and distribution of illicit brews does not only deny the government requisite and legitimate traders’ revenue, but also poses a serious health risk to our people. Kirinyaga will be the county that will show an example that we will not tolerate sale of illicit brews and drugs,” Waiguru added.

Meanwhile, about 50 people among them police officers have been arrested in the ongoing crackdown in Kirinyaga.

The multi-agency team has also seized over 1000 liters of illicit liquor during the arrests and recovered close to Ksh.1 million in cash hidden in the manhole. The money is suspected to be proceeds of crime.

The money was recovered hidden in a manhole under the bed at Holiday Inn Pub in Kutus town. The outlet belongs to Josephine Karioko Muchira who is also in police custody.

Karioko was found in possession of over 100 liters of illicit brew with fake Kenya Bureau of Standard (KEBS) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) stamps.

Kirinyaga County Commissioner Hussein Allasow said the bar closure order issued Governor Waiguru on Saturday has been enforced to allow for the vetting exercise.

Allasow asked bar owners and other stakeholders to cooperate with the government so as wipe out sale of poisonous alcoholic drinks in the county.

“We have done an operation and I want to confirm that all bars are closed except for a few who want to play cat and mouse games. Because of fear that there still could be poisonous drinks out there, the bars will remain closed until when vetting is complete,” he said.

He said all civil servant who operate liquor outlets have been identified and would not get licenses for their facilities.

The County Commissioner also put on notice all illegal brewers that the law will catch up with them soon

“Ours is to make sure our people remain safe; we are also rolling out a process where we are going to look for illegal manufacturers. We have arrested many and our officers are doing everything possible to make sure they are brought to book,” he said.

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