Drivers in Embu town have called for the immediate closure of wines and spirits outlets operating inside the busy Embu bus park claiming the operators are selling alcohol to minors especially when school closes for holidays.
The decision by the drivers comes after some students were spotted by bus park attendants sneaking into the alcohol retail shops to make purchases before boarding matatus to various destinations.
A resident identified as Simon Muturi who was waiting for a matatu at the terminus for a Nairobi-bound bus inside the bus park said he saw several students walking into the alcohol outlets and upon peeping through the door he saw the students purchasing alcoholic drinks which they stuffed in their school bags.
''I was heartbroken on seeing students walk inside the bar and buying beer. Is the future we want for our children?" Muturi posed.
The angry drivers said the mushrooming business of wine and spirit shops in the bus parks have been giving them a hard time to operate, placing their work at risk as some are tempted to drink because the alcohol was just an arm away.
Kimani Nyaga, a driver said that students often use drivers to buy them alcohol from the drinking joints for fear of being singled out.
"I will be happy if the entertainment joints in this bus park are moved to other areas, students are taking beer especially when they close schools. We are also tempted and sometimes we find ourselves taking beer at hours we are supposed to spend working. We are pleading with the government to act decisively on this matter," Nyaga said.
Nyaga cited the increased alcohol outlets as the root cause of indiscipline caused indiscipline among bus park attendants, drivers and passengers are being mishandled by some drunk bus park attendants.
Murithi Njeru, a driver stationed at the Embu bus park also blamed the government for turning a blind eye on a matter that has caused public uproar.
He said the owners of the entertainment joints should be immediately ordered to relocate to other areas where they will not risk the lives of passengers and drivers who might be tempted to drive while intoxicated.
''The students are using all possible tricks to purchase liquor including sending adults, especially touts, into the outlets at a cost to buy alcohol that is disguised as soft drinks by mixing it with sodas,'' Njeru said.
The cries of the drivers have been backed up by the management of different Matatu SACCOs who blame the county government for licensing entertainment joints to operate in bus parks.
Patrick Warui, KETNO SACCO chairman said the pubs and wine and spirits outlets were the sources of some road accidents stating that drivers go behind the bars and drink before taking the wheel.
Warui said that as a SACCO they had introduced impromptu alcohol tests along the roads to nab drivers driving while drunk.
“We have severally petitioned the county government which is the licensing authority to look into this matter but all has been in vain. They have been dilly-dallying on cracking the whip on alcohol outlets which keep mushrooming in bus parks,” Warui complained.
Justus Ngiavi the SACCO's secretary said that due to the notorious increase of liquor outlets in Embu bus parks the SACCO imposed tough penalties on their drivers who were found drunk.
The penalties include a six-month suspension from work, revocation of driver's driving license, and dismissal of those found repeating the same mistake.
Some outlets are said to be 'untouchable' as the owners are friends to bigwigs in the Embu county administration.