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Gov't shuts down 5,995 liquor businesses

The Ministry of Interior has intensified its efforts to enforce compliance with alcohol laws.

CS Kithure Kindiki speaking during the 3rd regional stakeholders engagement on the fight against illicit alcohol, drugs and other poisonous substances at Kirubia Stadium, Tharaka Nithi County on June 12, 2023

This initiative comes as the government recognizes the grave threat posed by illicit brews, which have now risen to become one of the top five existential threats to the nation's future.

Under the supervision of a multi-agency team, a nationwide crackdown is currently underway, targeting liquor businesses and assessing their adherence to the legal and regulatory framework.

This special sub-unit is diligently inspecting premises to ensure compliance with all the stipulated requirements.

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The most recent compliance audit report reveals promising results, with over 86 per cent of the inspected establishments found to be in full compliance with the country's alcohol laws and policies.

Out of a total of 43,708 outlets assessed, 37,713 have been given the green light to continue their operations.

However, 5,995 establishments have been shut down due to serious safety breaches and failure to meet essential legal obligations.

Notably, the Rift Valley region has emerged as a frontrunner in compliance, with a count of 23,735 businesses cleared.

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The Eastern Region and Nairobi have also shown impressive figures, with 5,708 and 3,315 businesses respectively.

Following closely are the Central region with 1,827, Nyanza with 1,217, Western with 1,153, and Coast with 706 compliant businesses.

The North Eastern region, however, lags behind with only 52 premises meeting the compliance criteria.

This comprehensive inspection covers various aspects, including the licensing status of premises, adherence to legal standards for alcoholic beverages, and proper labelling of alcohol products.

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It serves as a precursor to a thorough review of all licenses issued for the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of alcoholic drinks across the country.

The announcement of this exercise was made by Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki during the third stakeholders' engagement forum on illicit brews.

The objective is to tackle cases of permit misappropriation, as some investors have been found to engage in activities that go beyond the scope of their license categories.

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While the responsibility for liquor licensing and drug control was devolved to the counties, it has become evident that limited enforcement capacity and loopholes in the licensing regimes at the county level pose significant challenges in combating this issue.

Both levels of government have committed to intensifying their efforts in fulfilling their obligations, demonstrating a renewed determination to crack down on the illicit brew trade.

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