Business

Kiambu Bar Owners exposes the cartel running illegal liquor distribution at Kiambu Prison Canteens

On Tuesday, the Kiambu Bar Owners association wrote to President Uhuru Kenyatta decrying a county commissioner running illegal alcohol distribution at Kiambu Prisons canteens and Kiambu AP line.

“Mr. President, as residents and businessmen within Kiambu County, we wish to raise a very pertinent issue that has greatly affected our businesses. As Kiambu Bar Owners Lobby group, we wish to inform you that we have been dealt with very unfair competition by the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government through Kiambu Prison Canteen, the AP Canteen and their subsidiary Loriodo Bar within the precincts of Kiambu Prisons and Kiambu AP lines,” KBA wrote to the President. 

According to the law, Kiambu Prisons and Kiambu AP lines are not allowed to sell liqour. The Kiambu Bar Owners have, in their latter to the President, called on the President to save their loss-making and overtaxed businesses.

“As you are aware, Kiambu Prison is NOT authorized to sell Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) and or Keroche products from DEFCO. However, the operations of the Prison’s canteen in Kiambu continue to interfere with the local business environment as corrupt officials have made it a beer depot for DEFCO products by violating laid down regulations contrary to the mandate of Defco and in contravention of KRA regulations,” KBA shared in their letter.  

According to KBA, Kiambu County commissioner  Titus Macharia has allegedly colluded with junior officers in destroying the licensed business in Kiambu county.

Mr. President, high-ranking officials in your government have colluded with Prison authorities and people within Defence Forces Canteen Organization (DEFCO) and made Kiambu Prisons a business enterprise killing all local bars who cannot keep up with the stiff competition in prices. While a regular bar opens in the afternoon and closes before midnight, Kiambu Prisons has three bars operating 24hrs a day,” KBA wrote. 

Our source told this writer, “The persons behind this cartel at Kiambu Prison Canteens is the County Commissioner. When you go to that Prisons Canteen and you want to pay via Mpesa they will give you a number for withdrawal” 

I have edited out some details of this information.

QC**55**J* Confirmed.on 4/3/22 at *:4* PM Withdraw Ksh9*0.00 from 2092146 – HIGHTRAFFIC AGENCIES Ltd glory butchery muthara

Here is the full letter from the Kiambu Bar Owner letter to the President.

Besides operating 24hrs a day, Kiambu Prisons Beer prices are very low such that all other public bars cannot keep up with the competition since Prisons is open for everyone including KIST students who now frequents the pubs for the duty free beer. A beer that goes for Ksh 180 to 220 in a regular bar is sold at Ksh 120 at The Prisons. A bottle of say VAT 69 that is sold at Ksh 2,500 in an ordinary bar goes for Ksh 1,000 only. Every week, Kiambu Prison is believed to sell between 300 – 500 crates of beers ‘including take away’. This translates to an average of 15,000 bottles of beer per week. Selling at a profit margin of Ksh 50 per bottle, Kiambu Prisons welfare pockets Ksh 750,000 per week or 3million shillings per month.

Mr. President, remember Kiambu Prison Bar sell beer to everyone like a normal bar does on a normal day, it is a business that officials in your government have allowed to thrive at the expense of genuine industry players who have invested millions in the entertainment industry. Kiambu Prisons does not profit the government at all since it operates unregulated. It doesn’t pay taxes nor duties yet, they have forced genuine traders who pay taxes diligently out of business.

Some of the images of take away beer cans being sold from Kiambu Prisons and AP lines

If their customers were to take beer in regular bars, businesses in Kiambu town and its environs would prosper and we would diligently meet our tax obligations and build our country. It even pains us more since all the profits taken through the 3 prison bars are not injected back into the local nor national economy. It goes to people in your government who continue to make a killing from us since they are hiding under the Kiambu Prisons which has been allowed to run and operate 3 bars within Kiambu Town.

So insensitive is the prisons such that, they sell hundreds of take away in form of cans and mizingas which end up in village bars where they are sold at subsidized rates. Besides selling to other small village bars, the whole of Kiambu County now buys beer at Prisons for their functions eg Uthoni, Ngurario, among other functions. Going by the nature of Kenyans and free things, Prisons denies Government a very important avenue for increased revenue collection.

Besides killing our businesses, Kiambu Prison has turned into a haven for criminals and fraudsters. All shady car and land deals are done here. This compromises the security of the entire facility and in case of a security breach, there can be very serious consequences. Our efforts to seek the address of the Kiambu County Government and your representative the Kiambu County Commissioner have not been fruitful. From our observations, there could be a link between Prisons Welfare and corrupt County Officials. There is also a possibility that the profits from the duty free DEFCO products goes to very senior government officers in the Ministry of Interior.

To disguise their operations, the Prisons allow civilians to come in their hundreds pretending to coming to see an officer or for Car wash services. They have constructed three butcheries for Pork and Mutton, a fish general hotel, and a public car wash. They also allow for Chamaas and goat eating parties and fundraising committees to be held there since the public will buy the cheap beer. Mr. President, we are aware you are about to start a tour of Mt Kenya and we are proud and happy for the development that you have done in Kiambu and Mt Kenya region, however, all the good things cannot reflect in many of us because of a few individuals exploiting gaps in regulatory of such facilities as Kiambu Prison and selling of DEFCO products.

We humbly request you to immediately close Kiambu Prisons Bar (Loriodo, AP Canteen and Prisons Canteen) from the public and if possible charge all the prison welfare officials involved in this injustice and scum. Mr. President, your visit to Kiambu and the environs will be futile if you cannot address such issues afflicting your good people. We are privy to the fact that our situation can even get worse if the same people running the prison’s welfare clinches the leadership of this country as it looks right now. We have seen bad days Mr. President, made the sun rise for us as you retire. Please, Mr. President, hear our cry, close Kiambu Prison Bars for our businesses to rise again.

Johnson Thake Munyiri, Chairman KBA
Kiambu Bar Owners Association Lobby Group (KBA)
Cc:
1. Defence Forces Canteen Organization (DEFCO)
2. Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government
3. Mr. Githii Mburu, Commissioner General, Kenya Revenue Authority
4. Brigadier (Rtd) John Kibaso Warioba, Commissioner General of Prisons
5. George Kinoti, Directorate of Criminal Investigations
6. Ms. Esther Wamuyu Maina, Central Region Commissioner
7. Mr. Wilson Wanyanga, Kiambu County Commissioner

On March 10th 2021, Kiambu bar owners unanimously rejected the amendment to the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill, 2020 passed by the Governor James Nyoro administration.

All liquor licences will now be merged into one, according to some of the amendments, which bar owners claim is a manner of forcing them to pay more than they should.

The amendments also suggest that people who own and operate wine and liquor stores turn them into bars. Any bar must be at least 300 metres away from a residential area, a school, and a church.

During Governor Ferdinand Waititu’s tenure, Kiambu county also was involved in a court tussle with Kiambu bar owners after a proposal to increase the legal drinking age to 21 years from 18 was passed by the county assembly. Impeached county head Waititu said he was determined to make the youth, who are the most affected by alcohol abuse, productive.


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