NAIROBI, Kenya, May 6- The Bars, Hotels and Liquor Traders Association (BAHLITA) has asked the government to consider extending working hours of their establishments.
Boniface Gachoka, the secretary-general of the association, said while they welcomed the new directives announced by the president on 1st May, the operating time of 5-7pm was not sufficient to recoup the losses made during the lockdown and to hire employees.
“Before we were ordered to close our operations two months ago, we were operating at a capacity of 35 percent. Since reopening, we are operating at a capacity of 14 percent. That accounts for employees and revenue. If we are given a chance to operate until 9pm we will increase the capacity to 35 percent, ” Gachoka said.
According to estimates by BAHLITA, approximately 15,000 bars have been forced to shut down completely rendering thousands of employees jobless and accruing huge losses to the bar owners.
The association Chairman, Simon Njoroge also asked the government to consider bar employees as frontline workers and give them free unconditional vaccinations adding that they were ready to get vaccinated so as to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“Let everybody be vaccinated without any conditions. Our members who went to be vaccinated were told they have to be members of Tourism Regulation Authority. Let this thing stop. If teachers, Nurses and security officers are being vaccinated without conditions, why should bar owners face conditions yet we have been closed all this time?” he posed.
They called on county governments to take a cue from Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu, and Machakos counties which had come up with stimulus packages for the sector and a waived licenses, levies and other fees charged on their businesses so as to enable them get back on their feet.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday lifted the partial lock down that had been imposed on five counties namely Nairobi, Nakuru, Kajiado, Machakos and Kiambu following a significant reduction of infections in the country.