Sobering fines for alcohol crimes

The most dramatic legislation in the new law is expected to be gazetted before the weekend, which will ban drinking in a bar during the day. Photo/FILE

It is official; you will be arrested and fined Sh150,000 if found in a bar with a child, according to the new alcohol control law that has taken effect.

The Alcoholic Drinks Control Act was gazetted by Internal Security minister George Saitoti on Monday, meaning that manufacturers who package distilled alcohol in a plastic container risk being prosecuted and fined heavily as will be bars which sell such drinks.

All supermarkets and petrol station shops selling alcohol in sections that it can be reached by minors will be breaking the new law.

In addition, all previous licences for manufacturers, distributors and retailers have expired and businesses have to wait for further instructions from Nacada (the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse).

A week a go, Nacada, suspended renewal of licences until the new law becomes operational.

On Wednesday, the agency said it will issue a public notice before the end of the week allowing manufacturers, traders and distillers to continue using the old licences for now.

“Nacada will need some time to build up the necessary infrastructure such as constituting the District Alcoholic Drinks Regulation Committee, which will be responsible for licensing,” beverage consultant Ken Kariuki said.

With the new law, a bar within less than 300 metres from a learning institution is breaking the law, unless one has a special exemption from the minister for Internal Security.

The new law requires that all alcohol containers carry a health warning, which would mean that what is available in bars today does not comply with the law.

The most dramatic legislation in the new law is expected to be gazetted before the weekend, which will ban drinking in a bar during the day.

Naivasha MP John Mututho, who was instrumental in bringing the law to Parliament, said that the legislation will most likely require that all bars open at 5pm and close at 11pm on weekdays and 2pm to 11pm on weekends.

Nacada has said while some sections of the law will be complied with in phases over nine months, access and quality issues take immediate effect.

But many grey areas remain. One is that the methanol in distilled alcohol in Kenya is above safe levels. A Government study found that 85 per cent of brands sold in Nairobi were unsafe.

Distilled spirits had the highest levels of methanol, peaking at 31 parts per million, wines at 8ppm and beers at almost 5ppm.
UK safety standards are 2ppm.

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