Sakaja order to close nightclubs will see 13,000 fired, Sh390m lost monthly, court told

Johnson Sakaja

Governor Johnson Sakaja addresses city askaris and police officers ahead of the raid on noisy bars. Nightclubs have been banned from operating in residential areas as from November 29, 2022.

Photo credit: Johnson Sakaja | Facebook

A lawyer has moved to court to challenge the decision of Nairobi governor Johnson Sakaja to close down nightclubs in residential areas following public uproar over noise pollution.

Mr Kevine Otieno Ondago wants court to suspend the decision and reopening of the affected bars and restaurants pending determination of the suit.

He estimates that resulting from the closure, the affected businesses will lay off 50 per cent (13,000 jobs) and Sh390 million per month of their full-time work force in night clubs will be lost.

In the petition filed through lawyer Peter Wanyama, Mr Ondago also estimates that 10,000 jobs and Sh100 million per month paid to the temporary employees will not be required due to the reduction in operations within night clubs. 

He further claims that 73,600 indirect jobs representing Sh1.6 billion per month in indirect employment income will be lost in Nairobi.

In a petition filed at the High Court in Milimani yesterday, Mr Ondago says the closure has direct impact on the country’s economy and employment sector.

“Each night club operate with about three Disc Jokers (DJs) or a band who entertain patrons. Each DJ earns an average of Sh50,000 per night. With the declaration by Nairobi County, night clubs will have to lay off two out of the three DJs per club, leading to over 800 DJs with total income loss of Sh40 million per night,” says Mr Wanyama.

He says a music band at such night clubs earns an average of Sh100,000 per night. 

He adds that each night clubs pay annual licence fee of Sh130,000 per licence, which translates to a revenue of Sh52 million in liquor licence fees paid to the county government every year.

“This is exclusive of other county licenses such as food handling, health, fire, single business permit and branding. It is expected that the ban on night clubs licences will take bars’ slaes back to the Covid-19 period, where overall consumption of legal alcohol had declined by 30 per cent,” he claims.

Mr Wanyama adds that the ban has a negative value chain impact on small holder farmers and local supplies, who provide raw materials for manufacturing.

“The sudden decision of the County Government of Nairobi on November 26, 2022 expressly violates section 4(3) of the Fair Administrative Action Act,” says Mr Wanyama. 

It states that where an administrative action is likely to adversely affect the rights or fundamental freedoms of any person, the administrator should give the person affected by the decision prior and adequate notice and reasons.

According to him, the county government should have carried out a public participation before making the decision.

“The decision of the County Government of Nairobi to shut down bars, restaurants and night clubs - when it is engaging them to develop a workable framework that permanently resolves the problem - contravenes the provisions of Article 10 of the Constitution (public participation),” says Mr Wanyama.

He is also aggrieved that following concerns about alleged noise pollution from bars and nightclubs in the capital city, the county government responded by asking the Inspector-General of police to invade and shut down the clubs.

“The shutdown is often done by the police in the most brutal manner and has led to destruction of property and loss of livelihoods,” he says.

He adds that his client engaged the county government and the county alcoholic drinks control and licencing board with a view of developing a workable framework for noise pollution control that does not occasion shutdown of licenced businesses.

He has sued the Nairobi city county alcoholic drinks control and licencing board, the county secretary and county government. The national environment management authority, Inspector-General of Police and the Pub Entertainment & Restaurant Association of Kenya are listed as interested parties.

He wants court to issue an order directing his client, the Pub Entertainment & Restaurant Association of Kenya, the Respondents and the interested parties to hold joint discussions within 120 days and develop regulatory or administrative guidelines on noise pollution.

The respondents are yet to file their responses.