Bar owners in Murang’a cry foul over the cancellation of their applications for licenses
A section of bar owners in Murang’a have faulted the county government for disapproving their applications for licenses.
The more than 1, 000 bar owners who gathered in Murang’a town on Wednesday accused the county administration of being unfair in the process of renewal of the operating licenses.
They claimed that they had abided by the set liquor rules but they were shocked to find that only 1, 032 liquor outlets were found compliant.
During the Madaraka Day celebration, Governor Irungu Kang’ata announced that out of 2, 970 applications for the liquor outlet license, only 1,032 outlets qualified to be licensed.
The governor said the move was informed by the government’s effort to tackle alcoholism and abuse of drugs in the region, a fight championed by deputy president, Rigathi Gachagua.
The bar owners threatened to go to court and challenge the decision saying they have been in the business for many years and they have adhered to the set liquor regulations.
Led by their Chairman Simon Njoroge, the bar owners claimed closing of their businesses will not only affect their families but also families of those employed in the outlets.
In the meeting chaired by the deputy county secretary, Bernard Wanyoike, the irate bar owners accused some of the sub county liquor licensing boards of corruption.
They alleged that some officers who were doing investigations were requesting bribes saying the inspection exercise was flawed.
“We understand even some elected leaders politicised the exercise. What we are asking the county government is to accept all the applications and give use licenses to continue with our businesses. The government is fighting illicit brews and counterfeits but not legal enterprises.” said Njoroge.
He observed that, under his leadership, he has ensured all the bars in the county have been operating legally and have been complying with the law and thus the county has no basis to deny them the licenses.
The chairman further argued that the number of applications rejected clearly indicates that the process was flawed adding that the county should repeat the entire process.
“We know no inspection was done on the bars, and the approval for licensing was being done after one gives out money to those who were inspecting,” alleged Njoroge.
He continued “If the county is not going to license all the bars, it should close down all of them but we won’t allow only a few to operate.”
National secretary of bar owners association Boniface Gachoka claimed in Murang’a unlike in other counties, there was a lot of political interference in the vetting process.
Gachoka said the association will seek a legal redress over the matter adding that the process was bungled.
He observed that instead of slashing the number of bars, the government should focus on fighting the illicit brews and counterfeit liquor which have caused the menace especially in the central region.
In his response, the deputy county secretary Wanyoike told the traders to make appeals online within a period of seven days.
Wanyoike said the appeal will be done free of charge and those who will not make an online application should write a letter to the county secretary.