Capital FM (Nairobi)

28 November 2012

Kenya: Bid to Amend Strict Alcohol Law Goes Flat

Parliament on Wednesday quashed an attempt by Mt Elgon MP Fred Kapondi to amend the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act (Mututho law) for extension of drinking hours, among other measures.

Kapondi had proposed several drastic amendments to the 'Mututho law', among them an extension of the hours allowed for the sale of alcohol from seven to 14 per day.

He argued that businesses needed to be allowed an extra two hours to cater for opening the business and an hour for closure. The Mututho law currently restricts drinking hours from 5pm to midnight on weekdays and 2pm to midnight on weekends and public holidays.

But MPs put up a spirited opposition to the proposed amendments, terming them an enemy of economic progress.

Naivasha MP John Mututho, who is credited with authoring the initial law, dismissed Kapondi's amendments saying they were a direct opposite of what the original law intended to achieve.

He added that Kapondi was trying to reintroduce the extra operating hours through the back door.

"Surely, Hon Kapondi, as a father... as a legislator, you cannot sit here and allow Kenyans to die in bigger numbers than they are already dying because of alcoholism," he said.

"These hours will be reduced slightly than the already stipulated if we are committed in liberating our youths from addiction and promote a working nation," said the MP.

Kapondi had argued that the law as it is was restrictive to business growth and that it does not capture the interests of all Kenyans. He said that the stipulated six hours set for drinking are too few thus affecting the hotel industry.

MPs Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragwa) and Youth Affairs Assistant Minister Wavinya Ndeti (Kathiani) also opposed the amendments, with Nominated MP Millie Odhiambo saying commercial interests should never override the rights of minors, citing amendments targeting children.

She said benefits of good public health and social costs outweigh those allowing people free access to alcohol and other drugs.

Kapondi had proposed to amend Section 24 of the Act which he claims currently restricts parents to enjoy a meal in a restaurant with their families, including children.

The section says: "No person holding a licence to manufacture, store or consume alcoholic drinks under this Act shall allow a person under the age of 18 years to enter or gain access to the area in which the alcoholic drink is manufactured, stored or consumed."

The Mt Elgon MP, in his proposals, had argued that there are practical challenges arising from the enactment and implementation of the Act.

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