KENYA – Five major alcohol distillers say about 3,000 workers stand to lose jobs if their operations continue to be hampered by the ongoing crackdown on illicit liquor.
Transporters and thousands of traders are also counting losses and mulling over possible retrenchment of workers as distribution of alcohol brands has stalled due to fear of attacks by mobs.
The National Alcohol Beverages Association of Kenya (Nabak) Monday said they are not moving any products until the sporadic raids stop.
“Nabak employs 3,000 people directly and tens of thousands in distribution. All these jobs are now at risk,” said Kenya Breweries corporate relations director Eric Kiniti at a press briefing.
London Distillers said it had closed its Athi River factory and sent 500 workers on compulsory leave.
“None of us is going to the affected regions, so we are not selling any product at the moment. We now have a lot of people sitting at our distributors doing nothing,” added Mr Kiniti.
Nabak is an association incorporating Kenya Breweries, Keroche Breweries, Africa Spirits, London Distillers and Kenya Wine Agencies Limited (Kwal).
Kwal, Kenya Breweries and Africa Distillers are currently relying on exports and production of wines that are not affected by the crackdown to keep their factories open.
The attacks on alcohol distillers started last week after President Uhuru Kenyatta asked legislators and police to stop the consumption of illicit alcohol in central Kenya.
On Saturday, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) published a list of 385 alcoholic brands whose licences were suspended.
Nabak chairman Gordon Mutugi, however, said at Monday’s briefing that legitimate businesses and brands not on the Kebs list were being vandalised by hooligans.
Kenya Breweries said its distributor’s outlet in Nyeri was attacked Monday and its products destroyed despite not being on the Kebs list of illicit alcohol.
“Legitimate businesses are losing an estimated Sh100 million per day in lost business, destroyed properties and products,” said Mr Kiniti.
The Association of Spirits Manufacturers of Kenya also moved to court Monday over the looting and destruction of their businesses.
They said, in court documents, that products manufactured by their members in industrial plants set up across the country are regularly inspected and certified fit for human consumption by competent government agencies before the renewal of their manufacturing and distribution licences.
They have sued the Inspector General of Police, the minister of Interior and the Attorney General.
The association is accusing the police of failing to take action as stores were looted and property destroyed.
“The christening of duly licensed and approved producers as second generation and the blanket condemnation of legitimate manufacturers together with rogue producers goes against the legitimate expectation of the petitioner to enjoy the protection of the law,” they said.
They have also sued Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu who they claim organised rowdy gangs and led them to invade licensed bars and other outlets that had stocked their products on June 27.
“The violent looting and destruction is well organised and perpetrated by State offices under the guise of complying or supporting the public pronouncements made by the President on July 1 and repeated by the (Interior) minister declaring war on illicit liquor and purporting to revoke the licences of all the manufacturers,” the association said in court documents.