Nairobi — More than 35,000 people have applied for licences to enter the liquor business despite the tough measures introduced by the "Mututho law".
Internal Security and Provincial Administration assistant minister Simeon Lesrima said despite efforts through the new Alcoholic Drinks Control Act 2010, popularly known as the Mututho Law, to reduce alcohol abuse, the number of people applying for licences to join the liquor trade was increasing.
The law, introduced early this year, was aimed at reducing the number of drinking hours and also to ensure that no bars and pubs operate within 300 metres of a school.
Outstrip number of schools
"We introduced the Act to reduce the number of drinking hours and if we license this large number of bars, we will not win the fight against alcohol abuse," Mr Lesrima said in Mombasa on Monday.
He was speaking during the official opening of the third international conference of Islamic Scholars and Faith-based Organisations forum on drug reduction at the Mombasa Continental Resort.
The assistant minister directed local administrators to ensure that a limited number of bars were licensed.
"If we license all those who applied to operate bars and pubs, they will outstrip the number of schools in every district," Mr Lesrima said.
The assistant minister, who is also MP for Samburu West, announced that current statistics showed that the prevalence of heroin use in Coast had gone up by 2.6 per cent.
"The trend in the escalating use of new addictive substances, including heroin and other drugs, shows there is an urgent need to step up efforts to suppress supply and demand of those drugs," he said.
National Campaign Against Drug Abuse Authority (Nacada) chairman Frank Njenga told the conference that the names of those who have applied for liquor licences will be vetted to ensure they comply with the new Act.
"We have established district committees, which will ensure that only bars that meet the required standards are allowed to operate," Dr Njenga said.
Meanwhile, an administrator has warned that night clubs and bars operating in Mombasa's residential areas and near schools will soon be shut down.
District commissioner Abdi Hassan said liquor outlets had mushroomed in the town to the extent that alcohol is sold in premises next to churches, mosques and schools.
He said the district licensing committee, which he chairs, received almost 200 liquor licence applications in the last six months compared to 103 last year.
He said residents have made numerous complaints to him that some bars are drug dens or haunts for criminals and prostitutes, while others serve alcohol to minors.
"This is unacceptable. We shall clamp down on outlets that are flouting the Mututho rules," he declared.