Waiguru signs new law to protect public from dangers of alcohol consumption

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru has assented to a new regulation that seeks to protect the public from the dangers of consumption of alcoholic drinks.

The enactment of the Kirinyaga County Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, 2023 comes in the wake of death of 17 people who had consumed ethanol laced brew at Kangai and Kandonguvillages in Mwea West sub-county.

Governor Waiguru said the purpose of this Act is to establish a clear framework for the licensing and regulation of manufacturing, distribution, sale, consumption, advertising and promotion of alcoholic drinks in the county.

Speaking during the signing of the bill in her office at the County Headquarters in Kutus, Waiguru said that the Act will ensure fair and ethical alcoholic business practices.

This law is not meant to punish traders doing legitimate businesses, but to eliminate manufacture, sale and distribution of illicit brews, counterfeit, adulterated and sub-standard alcoholic products in the County,” Waiguru said.

The Act will also support the establishment of alcohol treatment and rehabilitation facilities and programmes for addicts.

The treatment and rehabilitation programmes will be run with the help of funds from County Alcoholic Drinks Control Fund which shall be instituted pursuant to Section 116 of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012.

Waiguru said the fund will further support the regulatory activities of the County and Sub-County Alcoholics Drinks Control Committees and activities related to the oversight, monitoring, and enforcement of the liquor control regulations.

“The fund will help us promote responsible consumption of alcoholic drinks and mitigate the adverse effects of alcohol abuse on public health, safety, and social welfare. It will also be used to facilitate research, education, and public awareness programs on alcohol-related issues, including harm reduction strategies and alcohol dependency prevention,” she added.

Waiguru said that the law also provides for the setting up of Directorate of Alcoholic Drinks Control that will be in charge of licensing and enforcing the conditions of a liquor Licence.

“This directorate will ensure that there is effective public participation in accordance with the framework for citizen participation, the law also mandates the county to undertake public education, training, sensitization on matters relating to alcohol in order to influence a responsible drinking culture,” the Governor said.

The signing of the bill was witnessed by Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) led by the Speaker Muteti Murimi and Majority leader Daniel Kibinga.

On his part, Muteti termed the law as “progressive” saying that once gazetted, it will help deal with the illicit brew menace in the county.

“Through these regulations, we are not outlawing sale of alcohol but regulating consumption, manufacture, sale and distribution of alcoholic drinks. We have a responsibility to protect our people from health hazards associated with alcohol consumption,” Muteti said.

In a departure from the past, inspection and monitoring of the general compliance of all liquor outlets shall be undertaken by a multi-agency Sub-County Alcoholic Drinks Control Committee.

Members of the sub-county committee which will be chaired by the Sub-County Administrator will include; Deputy County Commissioner; sub-county Police bosses, Director of Criminal Investigation Officer, National Intelligence Officer, education officials, public health officials, enforcement officer and representative from the Chamber of Commerce, two nominees from the public among others.

All liquor licenses shall be issued or cancelled under the approval of the County Alcoholic Drinks Control Committeewhose membership has been broadened to include; County Attorney, one person each designated by the National Anti-Counterfeit Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

The law also gives members of the public to object to issuance of a liquor license to a particular outlet and present their grievances to the Sub-County Alcoholic Drinks Control Committee for consideration.

On the recommendation of the Sub-County Alcoholic Drinks Control Committee for purposes of protection of the public interest, the county may also suspend the Licence or order the closure of a premise manufacturing, distributing, storing or selling an alcoholic drink.  However, owners of the businesses will also be accorded a hearing.

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