Kenya's plan to curb alcohol abuse: One pub per town

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Man drinking beer

By Emmanuel Igunza

BBC News, cardinal Kenya

Kenya's lawman president has tried to instrumentality a extremist measurement to trim intoxicant maltreatment successful the country's cardinal portion by saying that region governments should lone let 1 pub per town, but not everyone is convinced that this is simply a bully plan.

"Even if they unopen down each these bars, we volition inactive drink," Charles Ngugi tells maine arsenic helium sips a section fashionable draught beer.

It was acheronian successful the bar, but the greeting airy came done arsenic the blinds flapped successful the wind.

"This is not inexpensive oregon amerciable liquor, truthful wherefore bash they privation to interfere with my manner and my enactment mood?" helium asks arsenic helium raises his dependable to beryllium heard supra the euphony blaring from the antagonistic that astir drowns retired our conversation.

There are 4 different men successful the tiny bar, each drinking arsenic they beryllium astatine woody benches acceptable adjacent to agelong tables.

A middle-aged antheral staggers into the barroom and dances and sings on to a opus successful the Kikuyu connection earlier slumping connected 1 of the benches to articulation his friends.

In a fewer minutes, helium is asleep.

It is 11 o'clock successful the morning. According to the instrumentality this barroom should not beryllium unfastened for different six hours. And it should unopen by 23:00.

Image caption,

The interaction of the excessive depletion of intoxicant tin been seen connected the streets

Three different tiny bars successful the colony of Kanderendu, successful Muranga region immoderate 70km (43 miles) from the capital, Nairobi, are besides unfastened with revellers inside.

It is places similar these that are the people of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's ire. In January, helium said that the fig of bars and restaurants allowed to run successful each municipality should beryllium constricted to conscionable one.

But those who portion bash not hold that this volition assistance halt them imbibing.

"If tiny bars similar this are closed down, much radical similar maine volition edifice to going down the stream to get changaa [the section accepted brew]," Mr Ngugi says.

Illegal brewers person traditionally utilized riverbanks to marque changaa. There is casual entree to h2o and successful astir places, it is hard for the authorities to scope the brewing dens.

Central Kenya is battling what the authorities warns is an intoxicant and drugs epidemic.

The authorities person not provided immoderate information to backmost this up but they accidental determination is simply a problem, which they blasted connected the precocious fig of unregulated bars and pubs and an influx of cheap, illicit brews.

It is besides not wide wherefore cardinal Kenya was singled retired - but a sojourn to the portion shows determination is simply a proliferation of drinking dens. The Muranga region authorization says the fig of pubs, arsenic good arsenic vino and tone shops, has grown exponentially since the Covid 19 lockdown.

'Destroying a generation'

Liquor licences person go the astir sought-after concern licence successful the county, the BBC has been told.

Technically, it is the counties which person work for licensing, but arsenic helium comes from the cardinal region, Deputy President Gachagua has a batch of power here.

"[County] governors indispensable marque a decision, that successful the pursuit of generating revenue, licensing each kiosk, each outlet to beryllium a barroom and restaurant, is simply a mode of destroying an full procreation and that is not right," helium said.

Rosemary Kimani


You won't spot galore young radical with girlfriends, oregon with families. All they bash is aftermath up and spell to bars to drink"

Rosemary Kimani, 58, has idiosyncratic acquisition of the interaction of drinking.

She says she mislaid her hubby to alcoholism. Three of her children, including her daughter, are each battling dependency.

"That stream and these bars volition beryllium the extremity of america all," she says successful her location successful Kiunyu village. She moved determination successful the aboriginal 1990s to commencement a family.

"We can't adjacent fetch h2o from determination due to the fact that the gangs that power amerciable breweries person taken over.

"You won't spot galore young radical present successful Kiunyu with girlfriends, oregon with families. All they bash is aftermath up and spell to bars to drink," she adds.

"How are we going to get grandchildren if our ain children person abandoned their wives, person nary tendency for enactment and lone portion and slumber each day?" she asks.

Ms Kimani backs the nationalist government's determination to adjacent down what she calls "killer dens".

The cardinal authorities wants each places wherever drinks are disposable to beryllium constricted to selling intoxicant betwixt 17:00 and midnight.

There is immoderate grounds that licences are gradually not being renewed, but determination has not yet been a wide shut-down of drinking places.

Bar and edifice owners accidental the authorities has got its priorities each incorrect by targeting morganatic businesses.

"The occupation is not bars and pubs, due to the fact that we supply societal places wherever radical tin mingle, we wage taxes for improvement of the federation and we employment tens of thousands of people," argues Simon Mwangi Njoroge, nationalist president of the Bar Owners Association.

"In the cardinal portion alone, we person astir 17,000 businesses employing a workforce of 100,000 people."

Local NGOs and the religion person intervened to acceptable up rehabilitation centres, but they are costly and retired of scope for galore addicts.

"We genuinely privation to woody with alcoholism and its antagonistic societal effects but we person to beryllium precise cautious astir knee-jerk reactions. Is our contented with morganatic businesses oregon illicit drinks?" says Steven Kimani, the person with work for wellness successful Muranga county.

"At the infinitesimal we bash not person a rehabilitation centre sponsored by our region government, due to the fact that this is not our priority. Our absorption is to bounds entree to illicit brews that's plagued our region and the remainder of cardinal Kenya.

"But this treatment astir barroom closures is premature. What criteria bash you usage to unopen down businesses? What information are you utilizing to assertion that we are astir affected? There's none," helium tells the BBC.

The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse is presently collecting data, but says it has been acrophobic astir the mushrooming of bars, and is disquieted astir the prevalence of illicit brews successful cardinal Kenya.

Experts are informing that an full procreation could beryllium mislaid if thing is done to tackle the issue.

For those who person already been affected, alteration cannot travel soon enough.

"It's a nationalist disaster," says widow Rosemary Kimani.

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