Nyandarua law seeks to banish wines and spirits shops

In Nyandarua County, a determined effort is underway to eradicate the pervasive issue of illicit liquor trade, which includes eliminating the sale of alcohol in wines and spirits shops as well as supermarkets.

With the negative impact of unregulated alcohol sales on public health and safety on the rise, the county has unveiled a new law that seeks to enforce stringent regulations and oversight on players in the alcoholic beverages industry.

At the center of this initiative is the setup of Alcoholic Drinks Regulation Committees across its five sub-counties, a move that not only ushers in a new era in the fight against illegal alcohol activities but also introduces a fresh layer of checks that could negatively impact businesses.

Nyandarua County Governor has already signed into law the Nyandarua County Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill, 2023, which aims to provide regulations to end illicit brews across its five sub-counties, namely Kinangop, Kipipiri, Ol’Kalou, Ol’joro-orok, and Ndaragwa.

Nyandarua looks set to implement a decentralized approach to regulation with the creation of Alcoholic Drinks Regulation Committees in every sub-county, as outlined in the devolved unit’s County Drinks Control Act 2023.

These committees will play a pivotal role in scrutinizing applications for both retail and wholesale liquor licenses.

Quarterly reports detailing the applications received, vetted, and those recommended for approval will be submitted to the County Alcoholic Drinks Regulation and Management Committee.

Under the new law, the county asserts that no individual or entity shall manufacture, produce, sell, distribute, or dispose of alcoholic beverages without a proper license issued under the established regulations.

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County Alcoholic Drinks Regulation and Management Committee

The Act specifies that failure to comply with this directive may result in a fine of up to Kes30,000 or a prison sentence not exceeding four months.

Any person intending to engage in the production, manufacturing, or distribution of alcoholic drinks or operating an establishment selling alcoholic drinks must submit a written application to the County Alcoholic Drinks Regulation and Management Committee.

Within 21 days of submitting one’s application, the sub-county committee will display a public notice listing all applicants, the types of licenses sought, and the respective locations where their business will be carried out.

According to the county, this strategy aims to allow for public engagement, with any individual in the devolved unit welcome to file a complaint against any applicant.

Furthermore, the law empowers the management committee to withhold licenses for the sale of alcoholic drinks to supermarkets, retail chains, and restaurants—a move that could invite opposition from supermarkets and restaurants as they derive significant revenue from alcoholic beverage sales.

Additionally, a significant move has been made to deny licenses for the sale of alcoholic drinks in off-license retail outlets commonly known as wines and spirits. These restrictions aim to channel the sale of alcoholic beverages through controlled and monitored channels.

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