End of great beer migration to Kirinyaga: Mathira bars reopen 

Beer bottles

Beer bottles on the assembly line in a modern brewery.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • Mathira is the home of DP Gachagua who is in the forefront in the fight against alcohol abuse.
  • Mathira constituency has roared back to nightlife from the “alcohol drought season.”

Bar owners in Mathira, Nyeri county have heaved a sigh of relief after the government bowed to pressure and lifted a four-month moratorium on alcohol business in the area.

This comes just about two weeks after the Nation highlighted the ripple effects of mass closure of bars which had caused an uproar with the business community in the area saying the local economy was on the brink of collapsing.

Mathira constituency has been the only area in Central Kenya region, after Kijabe town in Kiambu county, where the sale and consumption of liqour had been outlawed after it was declared a "unique zone" by authorities.

Mathira is the backyard of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua who is in the forefront in the fight against alcohol and substance abuse.

Mr Gachagua is currently embroiled in a supremacy battle with some Members of Parliament from Mt Kenya region over his call for unity of the region.

A spot check by the Nation at the weekend showed that major urban centres, including the regional headquarter Karatina town, have roared back to nightlife from the “alcohol drought season.”

It is now business as usual, the loud music blasting from drinking joints, party goers enjoying nyama choma and the inebriated revelers staggering in the streets trying to find their way home.

Two weeks ago, about 400 bar owners petitioned the government to allow them reopen their business saying the closure had negatively impacted the local economy.

Chairman of Mathira Bar Owners Association, Charles Wachira Ngatia, said apart from their members collectively losing millions of shillings daily, there had been a massive ripple effect on other sectors that contribute to the local economy, especially the small scale traders and the transport industry.

Following mounting pressure, the  Central Kenya Regional commissioner Frederick Shisia chaired a meeting attended by senior security officials in the area after bar owners complained that they were being discriminated against, because the alcohol business was going on as usual in other areas of region.

A spot check by the Nation established that street food vendors, boda boda operators, and those in the transport sector had also been hit hard by the closure.

The government had closed the bars ostensibly because of their proximity to learning institutions and churches.

Ms Mercy Wacuka, a street food vendor who hawks sausages and boiled eggs from bar to bar, said she had regained her livelihood.

“I am glad they have listened to our cry and resolved the matter with the bar owners and have come up with a solution now I can fed for my children,” she said.

However, some of the bar owners who requested anonymity questioned the motive of the closure in the first place.

As for the beer lovers in this part of the country, the party has resumed.

“They had curtailed our freedom to take our favourite drink. I know alcohol does not solve any problems, but again neither does milk,” said Patrick Kariuki.