ALCOHOL ABUSE

Wambora rejects bill allowing drinking from 3pm

Contentious bill was unanimously passed by county assembly a fortnight ago.

In Summary
  • It is believed the MCAs reluctance to alter the time could have stemmed from the fact that a number of them own bars. 
  • County commissioner had been agitating for a review of the previous law that allowed drinking from 2pm to 11pm. The MCAs reviewed the time by just one hour.
Embu Governor Martin Wambora signs a bill in his office.
Embu Governor Martin Wambora signs a bill in his office.
Image: Reuben Githinji

Embu Governor Martin Wambora has rejected a bill that would have allowed residents to start drinking from 3pm.

The contentious Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill was unanimously passed by the county assembly a fortnight ago.

The national Mututho laws restrict drinking hours to between 5pm and 11pm on official working days and from 2pm on weekends and public holidays.

The bill caused an uproar from the national government administration, local politicians, religious leaders and residents, who demanded a review.

County commissioner Gagalo Gidi had been agitating for a review of the previous law that allowed drinking from 2pm to 11pm. The MCAs reviewed the time by just one hour.

It is believed the MCAs reluctance to alter the time could have stemmed from the fact that a number of them own bars. 

Wambora sent the bill back to the county assembly with a memorandum citing the clauses that he wanted amended.

Speaker Josiah Thiriku said Wambora had suggested, among other things, that the official hours be revised to 5pm-11pm.

The memorandum also calls for the abolition of a 24-hour alcohol sale licence for restaurants and hotels. The bill permits consumption of alcohol at any hour of day or night as long as a customer has ordered food at the establishment.

“Some unscrupulous businessmen had formed a tendency of abusing the bar and restaurant licences by boiling only a single head of a goat per day and selling alcohol to revellers patronising their liquor dens as early as 8am, under the pretext that they had also ordered food,” Thiriku said.

He said this is a challenge to the police and county askaris. The bill also proposes the county government sets up rehabilitation centres.

The speaker asked Trade, Tourism, Investment and Industrialisation committee chairman Morris Muchiri (Kirimari ward) to convene a forum to incorporate the amendments.

Thiriku has previously argued that alcohol abuse, and not the management of drinking time, is the county's main challenge.

He pledged to ensure the county assembly works with the national government to fight alcoholism.

The speaker made the remarks during a National Counter-Terrorism Centre forum to help the county implement its action plan on preventing and countering violent extremism.

Edited by Josephine M. Mayuya

Embu Governor Martin Wambora and county assembly speaker Josiah Thiriku.
Embu Governor Martin Wambora and county assembly speaker Josiah Thiriku.
Image: Reuben Githinji