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Murang'a bar owners want state to test workers, patrons

Closure for four months has caused suffering

In Summary

• They said the tests are too expensive for most of them as they have been out of work for four months.

• They asked the government to allow them to partially operate and sell take-away drinks even without the tests.


Bar owners want patrons and workers tested by government so they can get back to business.
CROWDED: Bar owners want patrons and workers tested by government so they can get back to business.
Image: COURTESY

Murang’a bar owners want the government to test workers  for Covid-19 and check patrons' temperatures so they can drink and party and businesses can resume.

They said on Monday the high costs of testing have made it impossible for may traders to work. This has caused owners and workers to suffer as they have been out of business for four months.

The county bar owners association chairman, Simon Jogoo, said their lives ground to a halt when the pandemic hit and the government ordered bars to close.

He said many operators cannot afford Sh10,000 for a coronavirus test and have therefore been unable to reopen.

Jogoo said the thermal guns  each bar is required to have are too expensive and the operators who have been out of work for months cannot afford them.

“Thermal guns cost about Sh15,000, which is too much for the struggling bar owners,” Jogoo said. He is also the chairman of the Liquor Traders Association.

He urged the government to consider testing their workers at no cost as it does with truck driver.

Murang'a bar owners association chairperson Simon Jogoo addressing journalists in Murang'a town on Monday.
OPEN BARS: Murang'a bar owners association chairperson Simon Jogoo addressing journalists in Murang'a town on Monday.
Image: ALICE WAITHERA

Jogoo appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to allow bars to partially operate and sell take-away drinks for a few hours every day.

“Even if it is only for two hours, we are ready to comply and work together with the government so that we can also get our lives moving,” he said.

Jogoo said hotel owners have the option of selling take-away food  if their workers are not tested.

“Bars have been closed for four months now. If only there was a way that we could sit down with the government and other stakeholders so that we can agree on modalities of working together because we are ready to follow all directives,” he said.

Jogoo also asked the government to rescind its decision to impose more taxes on Keg beer, saying it may result in increased consumption of illicit brews. He said Keg beer is targeted at low-income earners who will be forced to seek alternative drinks when its price is increased.

“When keg beer was introduced, it helped minimise consumption of illicit liquor but the gains could be negated by the tax,” he said.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani early this month proposed the reduction of relief on excise duty from 80 per cent to 60 per cent, which Jogoo said will hurt the struggling industry.

Bar owner George Mwangi from Maragi area in Kiharu  said they are being forced to individually support their workers to save them from starvation.

“We are asking the President to take pity on us. A lot of beer went bad when we were ordered to close. We have incurred huge losses and our businesses rely on loans for survival,” he said.

Mwangi said they will strictly follow the government’s guidelines if allowed to operate.

(Edited by V. Graham)