Nairobi: Reform of Kenya’s drinking laws
Under Kenya's reformed Alcoholic Drinks and Control Act, the sale of alcohol is to be prohibited before 17.00 on weekdays and 14.00 on weekends, and after 23.00 every night. While the laws were announced on 22 November 2010 they have yet to be fully enforced, with many of the country's estimated 30,000 bars still serving alcohol during the day. Government sources suggest the laws will come into effect towards the end of 2010 when all alcohol outlets will have to re-apply for renewal of licenses. Up until now many bars in Kenya opened at 09.00, serving alcohol until midnight or later.
In a marked social change Nairobi's bars are ceasing to advertise their family-orientated roast meat and beer meals, as the presence of those under 18 could incur fines up to Sh150,000. Previously children often accompanied their parents to bars, especially at weekends; now many business owners plan to turn their premises into restaurants that will serve food only until 17.00. Meanwhile allegations of corruption are beginning to surface, with Nairobi's city council askaris (officers) and policemen apparently seeking bribes from bar owners keen to retain their afternoon drinks trade.
Meanwhile the stipulation that no new license will be granted to an alcohol outlet within a 300m radius of a learning institution has led to confusion in existing venues such as the five-star Nairobi Intercontinental hotel in front of the Catholic primary school or the Norfolk Fairmont and Nairobi Safari Club beside the University of Nairobi.
Although Kenya is trying to introduce new drinking times it still does not have established legal standards relating to permissible levels of methanol in the commercial alcohol market. A recent government-backed survey revealed that out of some 20 legal brands of liquor sold in Nairobi, 85 per cent did not meet the required measure of safe methanol concentration for human use, prompting the government to review the issue as well as consider increasing the amount of alcohol quality inspectors.