COSTLY CLOSURE

Bar owners plead with state to let them reopen

They say they have incurred losses of up to Sh15 billion for the four months they have remained closed.

In Summary
  • All other businesses have been opened with certain conditions, they say.
  • The owners say Covid-19 is not going anywhere and we must find ways of living with it.
Mombasa county bar owners association chairman Patrick Kabundu at Pembe za Ndovu along Moi Avenue on Saturday
CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE: Mombasa county bar owners association chairman Patrick Kabundu at Pembe za Ndovu along Moi Avenue on Saturday
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

Bar owners have appealed to the government to allow them to reopen their businesses even under stringent conditions to save them from imminent collapse.

Bars, Hotels and Liquor Traders Association of Kenya chairman Simon Njoroge said they have incurred losses of up to Sh15 billion during the four months they have remained closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“All other businesses have been opened with certain conditions. We are also ready to abide by the rules for us to be allowed to operate,” he said.

 

Njoroge called on alcohol distributors and manufacturers to join them in urging the government to allow them to operate.

“Covid-19 is not going anywhere. We therefore must find ways of living with it,” he stated.

He further said bar owners were ready to work with any government committee to develop mechanisms of reopening.

“We also want to be given the opportunity to formulate proposals on how we could reopen just the same way religious leaders are coming up with suggestions to be handed to the government,” he said.

He reiterated that they are willing to ensure social distancing in their premises and see to it that patrons wash their hands or sanitise and wear face masks.

Richard Kagiri, the association’s chairman for Kiambu county, said bars cannot remain closed forever because of the pandemic.

“Covid-19 is here to stay. We must therefore find ways of going on with our lives even with the pandemic. Our members have suffered irreparable damage,” he said.

The association asked for free tests saying members cannot afford to pay for the services after being closed for a long time.

 

“The government should also give us infrared thermometers among other incentives,” Kagiri said.

He added that more establishments needed to be allowed to open and serve takeaways.

The association said 54,000 members had adversely been affected by the pandemic, which forced the government to close their businesses in March this year.

Already, the traders have laid off workers as they are unable to pay salaries. “Most of our members are single mothers who are suffering out there and need their jobs back,” Kagiri said.

Some of the traders now fear that their property would be auctioned as they are unable to pay loans owed to various lending institutions.

Edited by Henry Makori