Ward Representatives have unanimously passed the Kirinyaga County Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill, 2023 which will henceforth establish a framework for licensing, regulation and production of alcoholic drinks in the County.
The Bill comes as a relief for residents who have been gravely affected by the ramifications of illicit liquor as witnessed recently when at least 20 people lost their lives in Kangai Ward.
It also comes at a time when legitimate liquor traders have been affected by the conduct of their illegitimate business colleagues forcing Government to close outlets en masse.
Any trader selling liquor to children or persons under the age of eighteen will henceforth serve a jail term not exceeding five years or pay a fine not exceeding Kes. 500,000.
Traders who manufacture, distribute or sell alcoholic drinks without a license have also not been spared as they will be convicted for a jail term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding Kes. 50,000.
Hawking of alcoholic drinks has also been prohibited in the new law and those found culpable, will serve a jail term not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding Kes. 100,000 or both.
The Bill has also prescribed punishment to those who engage in promotion and advertising of alcoholic drinks within 300 meters from residential areas, learning institutions, health facilities and places of worship. Those who contravene the aforementioned requirement will be liable for a fine not exceeding Kes. 100,000 or a jail term not exceeding three years or both.
On administration, the Bill has recommended establishment of a Directorate of Alcoholic drinks control which will be headed by a director who will be competitively recruited by the County Public Service Board.
The Director, according to the Bill, must possess a Bachelorโ€™s Degree from a university recognized in Kenya alongside meeting requirements of chapter six of the Constitution.
Nevertheless, the Bill has recommended formation a County Alcoholics Drinks Control Committee which shall be headed by a Chairperson who shall be appointed by the Governor and approved by the County Assembly.
Unlike in the previous law where there were no clearly prescribed academic qualifications for the Chairperson, the Bill has recommended a minimum of a Bachelorโ€™s Degree from a recognized University in Kenya for the office holder.
Ward Administrators who were previously not part of the Sub County Alcoholic Drinks Control Committee, will henceforth be part of the decision making table at the Sub County level where the Sub County Administrator will be the Chairperson.
In the meantime, Students of Kabonge mixed Secondary School in Mukure Ward today paid a visit to the Assembly on a study tour where they learnt various Assembly procedure and rules.
The area MCA Hon. Thomas Mwangi who is also an alumnus of the school, encouraged the students to be disciplined in pursuit of their goals.
His sentiments were similar to those of the Assembly Speaker Hon. Muteti Murimi who urged the students to align their expectations with their strengths. The Speaker who is also a resident of Mukure ward, further encouraged the students to work hard noting that with discipline and focus, there is nothing impossible.
The day also saw members pass the Kirinyaga County Transport and Parking Bill, 2023 which was debated extensively yesterday during second reading.
Governor Anne Waiguru is expected to assent to the two Bills within 14 days and pursuant to section 30 (g) of the County Governments act of 2012.