APPEAL

Bar owners plead for more hours, waiver on licences

Seek two more hours of business.

In Summary

•Bar Hotels Liquor Traders Association (BAHLITA) says though the sector appreciates the government's move to re-open, the two hours are not enough.

•Says bars only making 14 per cent of what they would make when business was normal, which they say is not enough even to cater for their overheads.

Aerias Mwirori a chef at Blend Bar and Restaurant cleans the floor in preparation of the reopening of bars/FILE
Aerias Mwirori a chef at Blend Bar and Restaurant cleans the floor in preparation of the reopening of bars/FILE
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Bar owners and operators have asked the government to increasing operating hours to help them break even,as businesses slowly start operating after a month-long closure.

In what seemed to be a Labour Day gift to bars, restaurants and revellers, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday (May 1) lifted the closure of bars measure he had announced on March 26, which also included cessation of movement into and out of the counties of Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado, Machakos and Nakuru as one zone.

The President also revised back curfew hours within the zone to between 10pm and 4am, from 8pm, while allowing bars to operate up to 7pm.

Yesterday, the Bar Hotels Liquor Traders Association (BAHLITA) said though the sector appreciates the government's move to re-open, the two hours are not enough, asking the government to extend the operating hours by at least two more hours.

With the current operating period, bars are only making 14 per cent of what they would make when business was normal, which they say is not enough even to cater for their overheads.

Most of the bars operate from 5pm, BAHLITA Secretary-General Boniface Gachoka said, which means that consumers have only two hours to visit their premises for a drink.

“An extension of a number of hours would enable us to resume business in a more complete manner and facilitate the resumption of business by the more than 15,000 bars that have been forced to shut down completely due to the vagaries of the pandemic,” Gachoka said.

The association's chairman Simon Njoroge yesterday said at least 70,000 jobs had been affected by the most recent move to close entities in the five counties, where there are at least 15,000 bars.

He called for a 50 per cent waiver on liquor licenses and a relief on other licences, levies and fees charged businesses, and permits required to operate, among them the single business permit, Music Copyright Society of Kenya permit, among others.

“We have not been in stable business since March last year. Business are struggling to remain afloat hence the need to cushion them by giving these reliefs,” Njoroge said, during a media briefing in Nairobi.

Counties that have given businesses a relief include Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu, Machakos and Mombasa.

“We ask the others to come up with similar measures to stimulate the economy,” Gachoka said.

Meanwhile, the association as pleaded with bar owners, operators and the public to adhere to the guidelines by the health ministry, to help curb the spread of the virus.

This, it says, will ensure no future lock downs that have cost thousands of jobs and livelihoods.

The closure of bars and restaurants and clubs in Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Machakos and Kajiado counties will cost more than 250,000 jobs, according to industry players.

The five counties are now clustered as Covid-19 infection area with stiffer restrictions among them longer curfew hours that runs from 8pm to 4am unlike the 10pm to 4am curfew in other parts of the country.

When the stringent measures were implemented, covering the five counties, at least 14,500 bars closed in the five counties with more than 25,000 jobs affected.

Of the closed outlets, 6, 700 were in Nairobi, 2, 600 in Kiambu, 2, 100 in Nakuru , 1, 600 in Kajiado while Machakos had1,500.

Kenya Revenue Authority is said to have lost at lease Sh6 billion in revenues during the one month closure of the five counties, which happen to be among top revenue generators for the country.