Kiambu to have only 500 bars, Waititu declares
Governor Ferdinard Waititu has taken the fight against alcoholism in the county a notch higher after he revealed that only 500 out of more than 3,000 bars would be licensed.
During his State of the County address in the county assembly yesterday, Mr Waititu said he was serious about fighting alcoholism and drug abuse, describing them as a menace that had reached alarming levels.
He said the county had more bars and clubs than schools and churches, adding that his administration would slash the number of bars to tame rampant alcoholism.
“I know we will face some resistance but we are equal to the task. Residents want to see fewer bars than we have today. As leaders, we cannot continue to sit and watch as people perish due to alcoholism. We will not relent. We will fight the beer sellers on earth, in the air and in the sea,” he said.
If the governor goes through with his plan, it means that each of Kiambu’s 60 wards will have about eight bars each.
Waititu said the county had already enrolled 4,500 recovering addicts into a rehabilitation programme that saw them assigned manual jobs and paid Sh400 daily.
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He said the county was spending Sh2 million daily on the programme, which will run for the next six months.
“We also intend to start the Kiambu Youth Service where the addicts will be enrolled and given formal training once they recover. We will also enroll them in polytechnics so they can be equipped with technical skills,” he said.
In March, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i revealed that Kiambu was one of the counties with the highest number of alcoholics in the country, adding that the problem was worsened by easy access to alcohol.
“It is very sad to note that we have more bars and clubs in the county than primary and secondary schools combined. Currently, the county has 777 primary and 369 secondary schools, while it has 3,062 bars and clubs. This is unacceptable and must be checked,” said Dr Matiang’i.
The CS made the remarks in Makwa village in Gatundu North constituency, which is notorious for illicit liquor brewing. A baseline survey report released last June on the status of alcohol and drug abuse in the county painted a grim picture of the problem.
The survey, which was conducted by the county government in collaboration with the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse, showed alcoholism and drug abuse were still rampant and on the rise.
Waititu’s move to radically reduce the number of bars is likely to face resistance from bar owners through their umbrella body, the Kiambu Bar Liquor Association.
The governor has been at loggerheads with bar owners, who accuse him of driving them to ruin despite running their businesses legitimately.