28 Sep 2016 09:40am
OSHAKATI, 28 SEP (NAMPA) Some shebeen owners have requested for the provision of an off-consumption liquor licence to be issued to those affected by the Liquor Amendment Bill that is up for scrutiny around the country.
This request was raised during a poorly attended public hearing on the Liquor Amendment Bill at the Oshakati Town Council on Monday.
An off-consumption liquor licence entails the sale of liquor but strictly for consumption off the premises from where it is sold.
Members of the public and lawmakers have raised concerns that shebeens create noise pollution and make access to alcohol too readily available, particularly to youth members, which prompted the amendments.
The Bill states that: No person shall be granted a license for sale of liquor, within a prescribed distance from the vicinity of a school, a place of worship, a hospital or residential premises unless written consent has been given by all owners of residential premises situated in the prescribed distance.
The Act further reads in subsection (2) that, the provision of subsection (1) shall not apply to a valid license that was granted before the establishment of the school, place of worship, hospital or residential premises referred to in that subsection, BUT those provisions shall be applicable when the license is being renewed under the provisions of this Act.
This means that some shebeens could be not granted a liquor licence renewal if located in a residential area or in the vicinity of a school or worship place.
Erastus Uutoni, an Oshana Region resident said the off-consumption licence will work because this way, noise pollution and other negative effects of sheebens will be monitored.
Despite the condemnation of shebeens in residential areas, they are still a means of job creation and a means of income in most communities, and the closure of these places will lead to a number of people unable to make ends meet. Therefore off-consumption licences would be a great option for these people.
He also urged lawmakers to keep the law in their hands and refrain from giving in to residents, as not everyone understands what is required of them and jealousy prevails.
At times, even if a particular shebeen does not cause any disturbances in a certain residential area, there will still be one or two people who are not fond of you and will want you to fail and will go ahead and disapprove your business either way, therefore, people who find themselves in situations like this, should also be given an option for the off-consumption liquor license and not feel like it is the end of the world for them, he said.
Ronnie Hango, a business owner and resident in the same Region suggested that business owners affected by this Bill be compensated when required to relocate, as this could cost them large sums of money to erect their businesses elsewhere.
Since the places mentioned above were established after my business and I am required to move due to inability of renewing my license, I feel it is only fair that the government or the town council assist me in relocating. I broke no law and is required to adhere to the new law, Hango noted.
On 01 August, the National Council (NC) referred the Liquor Amendment Bill to a standing committee to consult with stakeholders across the country.
Parliamentarians Phillip Shikongo and Cornelius Kanguatjivi held the consultative sessions in the Oshana Region.
The findings and recommendations are to be presented to the NC on 20 October this year.