"In Uganda it's as if drinking has no restrictions"
Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze is seeking leave of Parliament to introduce a private members Bill to regulate the production and consumption alcohol countrywide.
According to Nambooze the Bill dubbed “Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2016” will be read for the first time before the 10thParliament which is due start business this month after the swearing in of new legislators.
According to Nambooze the “Bill intends to protect Ugandans from abusing alcohol; but not to ban its consumption or incapacitating the industry.”
“The proposed law is not punitive but is designed for prevention and rehabilitation of alcohol abusers,” said Nambooze.
“In the proposed law, the hours for selling alcohol in bars and drinking joints should start from 6pm and not exceeding midnight. In Rwanda and Tanzania, bars don’t operate before 6pm and don’t go beyond midnight” she added.
“In the proposed Bill, any body found breaking the law the punishment will range from warnings at least twice, payment of fines of a stipulated amount or both or imprisonment for not less than one year.”
In the proposed law according to Nambooze the law wants to ban sell of alcohol to children and parents who go with their children to drinking places.
“It embarrasses to see some parents after work go bars with their children, which exposes children to taste alcohol and eventually fall victims,” she explained.
“Proposed law also wants to ban the sale of alcohol in places where children play from like swimming pools, it is dangerous that even adults who drink alcohol at the sides of the swimming pool may drown after getting drunk.”Nambooze said.
“In the proposed law, we intend to ban alcohol sold in sachets of less than 500ml. The drink is packaged in cheap sachets sometimes as small as 100ml and costing as little as sh500, making them accessible to the destitute and children, which has contributed to increased cases of abuse of alcohol.”
“Besides being sold in glasses, it's now also available in polythene sachets of 25ml and 30ml. Many are employed in the growing industry which is thriving off the low-income earners. Since they can't afford standard bottled spirits they resort to crude ones” she added.
Nambooze argued that these drinks go for as little as sh100 and are unfit for human consumption. The producers, she said, are cashing in on this by experimenting with several cocktails that they release on the market without knowledge of their effect.
The Bill intends to repeal the "Enguli Act" which provides for the regulation of the manufacture, licensing and sale of ‘enguli’ and for other purposes connected therewith.
Nambooze said the Enguli Act promoted other beers manufactured by the colonialists, but controlled production of waragi, the local brew produced by Ugandans.
Enguli is defined as any spirits manufactured in Uganda but does not include refined spirits (such as Uganda Waragi) or any other spirits produced locally by the exclusive licensee.
Nambooze added that if the Bill is tabled before parliament it intends to ban politicians from giving alcohol to voters during political campaigns.
According to her, many students are being initiated into alcohol through the sachets, which some students sneak into school to sell.
"In Uganda it's as if drinking has no restrictions," she said.