, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 5 – The Pubs, Entertainment, and Restaurant Association of Kenya (PERAK) is demanding for the suspension of the breatherliser until proper engagement and consultations are held between the government and stakeholders.
PERAK Nairobi region Chairman Patrick Muya says the industry stakeholders were not consulted especially on the level of alcohol that is permissible for motorists and the whole implementation process.
Muya says the initiative is targeting private motorists in some cases even at their gates terming it as selective implementation with the upmarket areas being targeted where police can reap big.
He argued that the Alcoblow gadget does not determine the amount of alcohol in the body pointing out that only blood tests can determine the alcohol content.
“When you gaggle a tot of whisky, and blow on the gadget, you will be found in consumption, thus this should not be used as evidence to fine motorists; only blood tests can give the exact amount of alcohol in the blood. In other countries the Alcoblow result is only used as indicator that there is a possibility of alcohol consumption. In Europe ambulances with blood screening facilities are available at the place where alcohol tests take place,” he explained.
Muya also said the high number of road accidents in the country cannot be attributed to alcohol alone since there are other causes such as unroadworthy vehicles, poor road conditions and unlicensed drivers.
“Statistics show that most accidents occur during the day and are caused by Public Service Vehicles (PSVs), trucks and trailers with small private cars contributing only seven percent of total accidents in the country,” he said.
He also says the 0.35 limit the authorities are using is too general pointing out that there are alcohol limits depending on gender, body weight, and type of alcohol taken.
“PSV drivers, young drivers(16-23 years), newly licensed drivers, truck drivers and professional drivers, gender and even body weight all have different alcohol limits, for example in the United Kingdome(UK), Canada and Switzerland, maximum alcohol levels are at 0.8,” he stated.
On her part PERAK National Vice Chairperson Alice Opee said that the gadgets are prone to abuse by police who in some cases harass innocent motorists by subjecting them to humiliating roadside tests.
“In other countries where Alcoblow is used, police will only stop a motorist where they have reasonable cause to believe that he or she is drunk. In Kenya that is not the case as people who do not even take alcohol are subjected to unnecessary harassment,” he said.
The Association is demanding that the Alcoblow initiative be subjected to further discussion among stakeholders pointing out that they will move to court if it their issues are not addressed.
“Most of our customers now fear coming to our premises since some of the names of our premises were on the paper- that is defamation – we are losing business and we may also be forced to lay off some of our workers. In due course we will go to court if they do not address us,” he said.
The government re-introduced Alcoblow breathe analyzer in December last year partly to check rising road carnage especially during the festive season.
The gadget measures the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath and prints out the results, if a driver is found to be above the stipulated threshold he or she may be charged in court with driving under the influence of alcohol.
Those found guilty may be liable to imprisonment for one year or a fine of Sh100 000 or both.