Alcohol dealers have nine months to play by the new strict law

What you need to know:

  • Even Nacada is not clear on what happens on November 27 when the law is expected to come into effect

The new law on alcoholic drinks, expected to come into effect next weekend, will be implemented in nine months but some aspects take immediate effect.

The National Campaign Against Drug Abuse Authority (Nacada) says the renewal or issuance of new liquor licences has been put on hold until the new Act comes into effect.

Reacting to media reports last week claiming there was uncertainty and confusion on effecting of the new law, Nacada — in a Sunday advertisement — says the government will give the sector a transition period of nine months to adapt to the new law.

But even Nacada, which will be overseeing the implementation of the new law, is not clear on what happens on November 27 when the law takes effect.

The law will become effective as soon as the implementation date is gazetted by the Minister for Internal Security.

Even without being gazetted, the Act will still become operational. The Alcoholic Drinks Control Act 2010 states that the new regulations come into force within 90 days of publication. The period expires on November 27.

Come the date and the whole sector could be thrown into a crisis with over 30,000 bars and a number of distributors and manufacturers requiring licences under the new law.

According to the law, licensing will be done by the yet to be constituted District Alcoholic Drinks Regulation Committees under stringent regulations that target reducing accessibility to alcohol.

Although the sector will get a transition period of up to nine months, regulations governing accessibility and quality will have to be complied with immediately.

According to a legal officer with Nacada, who said she is not authorised to talk to the media, requirements restricting access to alcohol by minors take immediate effect.

This will mean that Kenyans who enjoy a family outing at the numerous nyama choma-cum-beer joints, may have to plan a different Christmas next month or risk spending it in prison or parting with a fine of Sh150,000.

Such people may have to decide to spend the festive days with their families, visit no-alcohol selling joints or abandon the family for the drink because the new law does not allow children in outlets where they can access alcohol.

“The primary objective is to protect children by limiting access to alcohol products and related information. However, requirements such as labelling has a grace period of six months,” the officer told the Nation on Monday.

The new law is very clear that no bar or alcohol outlet will be licensed to operate within a distance of about three football fields from a learning institution anywhere in the country.

This could mean, for example, shutting down numerous popular bars in the Ngara area of Nairobi which are located literally at the gate of Jamhuri High School.

But for chang’aa, Nacada is very clear that it remains illegal until the law becomes effective, but even after then, distillers of this product will have to meet stringent quality standards.

The government, according to the Nacada statement, is still developing rules and regulations that will guide the implementation of the new Act.

But Naivasha MP John Mututho, who championed the Bill, says the slow speed at which the government is moving to implement the laws is suspect.

On Thursday, Mr Mututho, Nacada officials and the alcohol industry will meet at the Strathmore Business School to chart the way forward.