By ROGERS KALERO
LIQUOR traders have devised a devious scheme in which they are secretly hosting patrons in their premises where beer drinking and binging are booming in contravention of the law.
Investigations by the Daily Nation in Ndola, Kitwe and other Copperbelt towns showed that some bars, lodges and night clubs were entertaining revellers behind closed doors and making roaring business out of frivolous fun-lovers.
In Ndola, the clandestine trend is prevalent in Chifubu, Pamodzi, Kawama and Masala Townships where bar owners colluding with dedicated customers, are hoodwinking authorities as their premises appear shut while business is running behind closed doors.
In Kitwe, Chingola and Luanshya the situation is similar as patrons are frequenting bars, lodges and shebeens, enjoying alcoholic beverages away from the public eye.
The secret operation was likely to be going on in other parts of the country.
A check in the townships and other areas showed that patrons were parking their vehicles away from the bars and lodges while traders positioned some youths in vintage areas to raise alarm should they spot law enforcement officers.
Council officers, Ministry of Health officials and police officers had been making patrols in many parts of the areas.
When contacted, Copperbelt Commissioner of Police, Charity Katanga, warned against illegalities and urged members of the public to report bar owners and other liquor traders who were abrogating the law.
Ms Katanga said in an interview yesterday that police officers could not be everywhere and so it was important that members of the public reported anyone involved in the illegal activity.
“In this situation, we need collaborated efforts between members of the public, the police and the local authorities who issue liquor licences.
“So all well-meaning members of the public who know bars, night clubs and lodges involved in this illegal activity must report them to the police or the local authorities,” Ms Katanga said.
In some cases, she said, alert members of the public have reported such bars and police have acted appropriately.
In a separate interview, Kitwe Mayor, Christopher Kang’ombe said the fight against COVID-19 was an opportunity to shut down all ‘notorious’ shebeens in Buchi, Chimwemwe and others parts of the city.
Mr Kang’ombe said bars owners, who were defying Government guidelines on the fight against COVID-19, would have their licences revoked.
Mr Kang’ombe said the directive from the Republican President was clear that, in the wake of the ravaging COVID-19, bars should remain closed.
“So we will use this fight against covid 19 as an opportunity to shut down all shebeens in Buchi, Chimwemwe and other parts of the city,” Mr Kang’ombe said.
Last week, Ndola City Council public relations manager, Tilyenji Mwanza warned that the local authority would revoke any licences from bars, lodges and night clubs that were still operations.
Luanshya Mayor, Nathan Chanda, also warned that traders selling beer when the ban was still in effect would be dealt with and also cautioned residents to stay away from bars.
By ROGERS KALERO