Party is back! Nairobi MCAs stop Sakaja closure of night clubs

Noise pubs

A number of vehicles parked outside a famous pub along Thika Road as pictured on December 3, 2022. The area has a number of night clubs which have been accused of causing unwanted noise to the neighboring residentials.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu I Nation Media Group

Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) of Nairobi have directed Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja to lift the order on the closure of nightclubs last month over noise pollution.

The MCAs on Friday adopted a report by the Sectoral Committee on Culture and Community Services following a petition by the Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurant Association of Kenya (Perak).

The first-time governor last month caused uproar from after he revoked licenses of nightclubs in residential areas that were cited for causing noise pollution causing a headache to residents.

Governor Sakaja immediately went on a crackdown deploying county askaris and officers from the National Police Service (NPS) to enforce compliance with noise levels.

Mr Sakaja’s divisive move elicited mixed reaction with support from a section of the public – as well as President William Ruto – but stiff resistance from the business community especially from the entertainment sector players.

In its petition to the Nairobi County Assembly, Perak had complained that the order by Governor Sakaja was indiscriminate and disregarded the fact that the same county government had issued the licenses for the businesses to operate as nightclubs.

Perak argued that there are grey areas in Nairobi planning that have blurred the lines between commercial and residential areas.

This as many clubs shifted from the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) to city estates which are recording huge demand for nightclubs amid a sharp growth in population.

City MCAs now say Mr Sakaja’s order “was not clear and it is affecting all the night clubs, even those that are compliant.”

They argued that while only 400 of Nairobi’s 12,000 licensed bars are licensed to operate at night, the order had given county enforcement officers police officers the wherewithal to ruthlessly enforce the order.

The MCAs further said that it had put at risk the income of about 60,000 workers in the sector that generates income of about Sh21 billion annually.

In the report adopted by the County Assembly, the MCAs directed county askaris and the police to “immediately cease to enforce the order pending its clarification”.

Further, the MCAs also asked for a review of the revoked license for the night clubs that are compliant.

The County Assembly has recommended that PERAK, residents’ associations and the County Government should hold a joint discussion within a month to come up with a framework on the operation of night clubs and restaurants within residential areas.

Further, it has recommended for the city’s Department of Urban Planning to come up with a clear definition of a residential area and commercial area.

The MCAs have also recommended that the Assembly commences the process of amending the Nairobi City County Alcoholic Drinks and Licensing Act, 2014.

The MCAs have however directed Perak to ensure to ensure that all the night clubs and restaurants within residential areas are soundproof within six to 12 months.