Embu County Governor Martin Wambora has declined to sign into law a bill that proposed to allow alcohol consumption from 3 pm.
The county assembly of Embu unanimously passed the contentious Alcohol Drinks Control bill about two weeks ago.
According to national Mututho laws, drinking hours are strictly between 5 pm and 11 pm on weekdays and from 2 pm during weekends or public holidays.
The bill raised concerns from politicians, residents, religious leaders, and the national government who demanded a review of the bill.
County Commissioner Gagalo Gidi had been seeking for review of the preceding law that permitted drinking from 2 pm to 11 pm, and the MCAs only reviewed it by one hour.
It is supposed that the reluctance by MCAs to review the drinking hours time could have been caused by the fact that most of them own bars in the region.
Governor Wambora declined to sign the bill into law, sending it back to the county assembly along with memorandum stating the clauses to amend.
Speaker of Embu County Assembly Josiah Thiriku stated that the Governor had proposed several amendments including official hours revised to 5 pm – 11 pm.
The memo also further called for the ending of a 24-hour alcohol sale permit for hotels as well as bars and restaurants.
The current bill allows for the consumption of alcohol throughout the day and night provided the customer orders for food.
“Some unscrupulous businessmen had formed a tendency of abusing the bar and restaurant licenses by boiling only a single head of a goat per day and selling alcohol to revelers patronizing their liquor dens as early as 8 am, under the pretext that they had also ordered food,” said Thiriku.
He further said this was a challenge to the police and other county security agents. The bill also proposed that the county government should put up rehabilitation centers.
The speaker urged Trade, Tourism, Industrialization, and Investment committee chairperson Morris Muchiri (Kimari Ward MCA) to convene a forum to integrate the said amendments.
The speaker had previously argued that abuse of alcohol was the main challenge of the county and not the management of drinking time.
He also promised to ensure that the County Assembly of Embu would work with the national government to address the fight against alcoholism.
Thiriku was speaking during the National Counter-Terrorism Center forum that was convened to help the county to implement its action plan on prevention and countering violent extremism.