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Pubs count losses over Alcoblow crackdown

Nairobi, known for its night life, has recently became dull six weeks after the introduction of the alcohol breath tester.

Areas such as Eastlands, Westlands, Kilimani, Runda, Langata and Thika Road have witnessed a fair share of drama as traffic police go after drunken drivers.

On Friday at around 10.30pm, Samuel Kimaru, Traffic Commandant, and his team preyed on motorists at City Cabanas, on Mombasa Road, and later near Mlolongo.

After blowing, some of the drivers registered figures of up to 0.312 against the required limit of 0.035.

The scenario was replicated on Saturday midnight on Langata Road, near the T-Mall, where dozens of unlucky drivers were arrested and taken to Langata Police Station.

“We are not here to play games but to save lives. Let us embrace safety more than pleasure,” said Mwikamba Mgenyi, National Transport Safety Authority who was in charge of operation on Langata Road on Saturday night.

Just a few metres ahead, the once thriving Rafikiz, opposite Uchumi Supermarket, was barely half full of revellers.

Instead of making merry, the patrons looked remorseful and spoke in soft tones, perhaps fearing they might attract the police.

“You can see for yourself what this thing, (the crackdown), has done to business here. Some of our colleagues have been fired and morale is low,” said one of the waiters.

Bar owners have seen their profits on a downward spiral as more consumers shun their favourite drinking spots.

Kariuki Ruitha, owner of Reminisce Bar and Grill in Langata is one of the traders whose businesses have been affected.

“We want the Government to come clean and tell us what we have done. We run legitimate businesses and pay taxes but we are being targeted unfairly,” he lamented.

Since December 13, when the Alcoblow was introduced, Reminisce has lost Sh6.5 million as revellers shun Langata, one of the operations’ hotspot.

“On Fridays and Saturdays, I used to host 700 patrons per day. These days I barely get 200,” said Ruitha.

The pub has laid off more than 50 per cent of its staff.

To address the growing concern of the operation on its businesses, Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurant Association (Perak) wants the implementation of the operation reviewed.

“We are concerned that the Alcoblow operation is targeting motorists, in some cases as far as their gates,” said Perak Nairobi chairman, Patrick Muya, yesterday at Stanley Hotel during a press briefing.

Consumers taking more than two bottles of beer will surpass the legal limit on the alcohol breath tester.

Pubs have grown tremendously over the last few years.

In Eastlands Perak estimates there are more than 6, 000 joints.

Unfortunately, consumers are shying away from the bars as they can no longer afford hefty cash bails and embarrassing episodes in police cells.

“We fully advocate responsible drinking but our problem is the way it has been implemented.  The move is hurting businesses and tourism,” said Perak’s chief executive Lillian Kalela-Muhanji.