Shock and disbelief as Governor Kang'ata slashes Murang'a bars by 65 per cent

Murang'a Governor Irungu Kang'ata.

Murang'a Governor Irungu Kang'ata. He plans to reduce bars in the county by half in war against illicit drinks.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Shock and disbelief has gripped bar owners in Murang'a County after Governor Irungu Kang'ata on Thursday announced a reduction in the number of bars from 2,971 to 1,032.

Following the vetting of 2022/23 licences and in line with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's campaign against illicit brewing, drugs and alcohol trafficking in the Central region, 2,108 bars welcomed the inspection team while the rest opted out.

There were 2,971 applications, 2,108 were inspected, 1,032 were approved, 1,303 were rejected and 393 were found to be operating without licences.

"We are complying with Gachagua's directive and advice ... we wish to inform residents that the process of applications and inspections for Alcoholic Beverages Control Licences is now complete," Dr Kang'ata said.

He added that those who have been approved will now receive a digital invoice to guide them in paying the licence fees by June 15, when the approved status will expire.

However, the county boss said the final decision to license the bars will be subject to a seven-day public participation.

"There is a Gikuyu saying that all those who are chased out by the use of force come back but if it is done through justice, they leave peacefully," he said.

He said the list of those approved and rejected would be open to the people for scrutiny so that further recommendations could be made.

"Residents will have seven days to challenge the approval of any successful applicant," the governor said.

Those who were denied a licence would be given an opportunity to appeal the decision, while some who have been approved could face objections.

"Only the people themselves can make these decisions ... I will involve everyone and I will make this information public first," he said.

The governor said those earmarked for closure will be given a rejection letter with reasons "and they will be given a chance to appeal or seek a review".

Liquor licences

In Maragua sub-county, 608 bar owners had applied for liquor licences, 440 were inspected and only 104 were approved. The sub-district was found to have 336 unregistered bars.

Kiharu had 598 applications, of which 445 were inspected. It will now have 208 bars.

Gatanga sub-county had 433 applications 310 of which were inspected and 144 were approved. The area had 51 unlicensed retail bars. 

Kandara sub-county had received 432 applications, of which 283 were inspected and 165 were approved. A total of 111 were found to be operating without a licence.

Kigumo sub-county will now have 106 bars out of the 360 applications of which 222 were inspected and 100 others found to be operating without licences.

Kangema sub-county had 274 applications of which 112 were approved out of 231 inspected and 20 found to be operating illegally.

Mathioya sub-county will now have 88 bars out of the 266 applications, of which 188 were inspected. A total of 38 were found to be operating without licences.

Kahuro sub-county will now have 72 drinking places out of 245 inspections with 173 refusals, while Ithanga Kakuzi sub-county will have 34 bars out of 140 applications.