Board proposes limiting number of bars in Nairobi to 3,000


Nairobi County's Liquor and Licensing Board has proposed capping of bars in the city to 3,000 to rein in mushrooming of illegal alcohol dens. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Nairobi County will have only 3, 000 bars if a proposal by the County Liquor and Licensing Board is adopted and passed by the County Assembly.

The board is set to present the proposal to the assembly in two months’ time.

Appearing before the Nairobi County Assembly Budget and Appropriation Committee on Monday, Nairobi County deputy director of liquor licensing Hesbon Agwena said the policy seeks to rein in the mushrooming of illegal outlets in the city.

Mr Agwena told the Robert Mbatia-led committee that the policy will inform the maximum number of bars that should be within every area, location and the distance between them.

Illegal outlets

The deputy director said in November, 2014, when the board came into operation, only 7, 200 bars were licensed by the county but a census carried thereafter revealed a sharp spike of alcohol dens.

According to a 2016 report, Nairobi had 12,500 bars with most of them illegal and in the informal settlements.

In the Central Business District, Mr Agwena said, there were 2,000 bars with only 736 licenced.

“We are looking at scaling down the number to 3, 000 bars only in Nairobi. Eldoret, for example, has only 800 bars,” said Mr Agwena.


But, the county official estimates that about 3,000 outlets may have closed down in the last four years.  At least 50 bars are opened in the city every three months.

“We only license those that are in a plot and have a plot number but since most are on top of residential houses they cannot get licensed. If we enforced the law then more than 4, 000 bars will be affected as they do not meet our set standards,” said Mr Agwena.

In 2017/2018 financial year, City Hall collected Sh254 million in annual revenue from only 5, 000 bars against a target of 7,000 bars.

This year, the county collected Sh124 million against a target of Sh287 million from 3, 900 bars with the target being 4, 800 before the end of the financial year in June.

“Some have been closed for not meeting standards. In the past year, we estimate that 200 have closed. Most are operating within residential areas and in temporary structures and so cannot be licensed,” he said.

Informal settlements

Kibera, Dandora, Mathare, Umoja, Kangemi, Kayole, Gomongo and Korogocho are some of the highly affected areas where bars, and wines and spirits outlets are mostly situated within residential areas.

Mr Benjamin Omondi, the officer in charge of liquor enforcement operation, said that his team faces resistance from the owners of the illegal outlets especially those owned by police officers.

The city official in charge of sensitisation, Mr Mwaka Mwola, said issuance of licences indiscriminately has led to the spike in alcohol dens.