New stringent rules to change sale of alcohol

Thursday, March 7th, 2024 06:54 | By
Senior police officers follow proceedings during a meeting with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua in Nairobi on implementation of stringent measures to curb illicit brews, drugs and substance abuse menace. PHOTO/DPCS
Senior police officers follow proceedings during a meeting with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua in Nairobi on implementation of stringent measures to curb illicit brews, drugs and substance abuse menace. PHOTO/DPCS

The government yesterday shut down all outlets manufacturing or selling second-generation alcohol, in a move that could cripple the beer and beverages industry.

In arguably the most drastic crackdown on alcohol consumption in the country since the famous Mututho rules, the government announced immediate cancellation of permits for second- generation alcohol and alcoholic beverage distillers and manufacturers issued by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs).

In an unprecedented move, the government banned officers from State agencies involved directly or indirectly in the fight against alcohol and drug abuse from running bars. They include administration officers and employees of agencies such as the National Police Service, Nacada, Kebs and KRA.

“All public officers in the enforcement or compliance chain such as KRA, Kebs, ACA, Public health, Nacada, NGAO and NPS shall not own and operate a bar directly or via proxy. All public officers currently operating such premises are required to shut them down or resign from the service with immediate effect,” said the government.

In a meeting attended by top Government officials including Interior Cabinet Secretary Kindiki Kithure, Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo, Attorney General Justin Muturi and directors from KRA and Kebs, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua decried the prevalence of drug abuse in the country, warning that security officers who shall display laxity in fighting the vice in their jurisdictions will not be transferred but sacked immediately.

“We must deal with this matter once and for all because it is an existential threat facing us,” said Gachagua.

The Deputy President, who described the killer second generation alcohol as “poison” paraded all senior security officers from all the 47 counties and read to them the Riot act. A tough talking Kindiki spelt out the new measures, describing those selling illegal alcohol and other outlawed drugs as “terrorists.”

Besides suspending all licenses of alcohol manufacturers and distillers, Kindiki spelt out measures that could cripple the poorly regulated alcohol and beverages industry in the country.

“All existing valid licenses will be vetted afresh within twenty-one days (21) days of this directive, with premises approved to resume operations only upon receipt of fresh approval,” warned Kindiki.

Fresh licences

The government, through the Ministry of Interior and National Administration, instead invited all currently licensed manufacturers and distillers to a meeting to be held on Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at 10am on the decision.

The government now wants alcohol manufacturers to apply for licenses afresh. Those applying for fresh licences must install Quality Control (QC) laboratories fitted with Gas Chromatography with Flame Ionization Detector (FID).

“This MUST be operated by competent laboratory analyst to test incoming raw materials and finished products before releasing to the market. The laboratories should register with a provider of inter laboratory comparison and submit their QC results to the Kebs monthly.”

State has also directed that all alcohol manufacturers shall henceforth establish and document all traders in their distribution chain and have procedures for ensuring full traceability from factory to the consumer of alcoholic products manufactured for sale.

“All alcoholic products shall include traceability information including manufacturer details, location, ingredients or content,” said Kindiki.

The far-reaching measures also require ⁠Kebs to ensure that within 45 days, all industrial ethanol is denatured or marked with a denaturing agent (denatonium benzoate) to prevent diversion.

According to the government, any licences currently issued to bars and other outlets and premises by counties contrary to provisions of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act better known as the Mututho law, especially as relates to licensing of premises within residential areas and around basic educational institutions are null and void.

The new directive also states that no bars or alcoholic outlets shall be allowed to operate beyond the stipulated operation hours as provided in section 34 of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, failure to which the operator shall be fined or imprisoned as provided by law and all the drinks, and related accessories in the premises forfeited with accompanying license withdrawal.

In a tough directive to manufacturers, all distillers aware of counterfeits of their products and fail to report to the Anti Counterfeit Authority on the same shall be deemed complicit.

“Licensed manufacturers will be required to furnish County Security Teams with the geo-location and physical details of their licensed premises, as well as stock records per licensed premises. Any other physical premises stocking, manufacturing and housing manufactured stocks will be deemed illegal stocks for destruction,” directed Kindiki.

New regulations also spell tough conditions for law enforcement officers involved in selling of narcotics of harbouring suspects selling it.

Kindiki also directed that all landlords or premise owners aiding and abetting flouting of these fresh regulations be held liable for renting out space for establishment of bars in prohibited areas.

All chemists and agrovets are now expected to submit their licenses to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board and Veterinary Medicines Directorate for verification within 30 days, failure to which they shall be deemed unlicensed for closure.

“All unlicensed and non-compliant drug manufacturers, agrovets and chemists are to be shut down with immediate effect. The list of currently approved and licensed establishments have been shared with county security teams for reference,” Kindiki directed.

According to Kindiki, all licensed pharmacists and veterinary doctors dispensing prescriptions drugs without prescription shall be deregistered. The government also wants all vehicles and buildings used in storage, manufacturing, trafficking of illegal drugs, illicit brews and alcohol shall be seized and deemed to be government property.

“The Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Health shall put in place measures for branding and colour specification of all alcoholic and tobacco distribution vehicles. Further such products are to be transported between the hours of 6am and 6pm only. The guidelines to be issued within 14 days from this directive, with manufacturers expected to secure full implementation within 45 days.”

Both Kindiki and Gachagua stressed that a multi stakeholder approach has been instituted to strengthen surveillance, enforcement and compliance at all levels led by the National Government Administrative Officers. The government has also moved to conduct surveillance at the border points and this will be undertaken through a multi-agency framework.

Integrity vetting

To enforce compliance on package according to the Alcoholics Drinks Control Act, the Kenya Bureau of Standards shall within 60 days, review the guidelines on minimum quantity of alcoholic drinks to enhance the same from 250ml to 750ml or higher.

All enforcement agencies shall undertake integrity vetting of all officers manning border points, highways and regional offices. Only officers of integrity and good standing will be appointed to conduct surveillance at the border points and highways especially Namanga and Isebania on the Kenya-Tanzania border, Moyale and Isiolo on the Kenya-Ethiopia border.

Ministry of Health is urged to issue directives for all level 3 and above hospitals to establish dedicated rehabilitation wards/facilities in line with existing norms and standards.

In particular, amendments to the Alcoholics Drinks Control Act county licensing is conditional to receipt of a clearance certificate from Nacada as a pre-condition for the issuance of license to sell, distribute and otherwise deal with alcoholic drinks.

All County Security Committees have received the existing approved and licensed list of manufacturers, distillers, pharmacists, and agrovets. Committees are hereby directed to shut down and destroy all illicit manufacturing installations, distilleries, agrovets and chemists not within the approved list of licensed enterprises within ten days of this directive.

County Security Committee Members will be held liable and subject to disciplinary action where an unlicensed manufacturing installation, distillery, agrovet or chemist is e public.

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