Chez Ntemba, Stereo pubs could have licence revoked

Top night clubs and drinking joints within Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre risk losing their liquor licences for supplying and selling alcohol to under age and for acting as hub of teen prostitution, contrary to set by-laws, Nyasa Times has established.

Popular clubs such as Chez Ntemba, Sterio, Grand and Grill, Pa Station among others are about to have their licences revoked for failing to comply with an order Blantyre City Council (BCC) jointly with Blantyre urban District Youth Office and several youth-oriented non-governmental organisations issued last month.

NGOs concerned are Youth Activists Initiative Organisation, Young Voices Organisation and Blantyre City Child Friendly District Initiative.

Clubbing Chez Ntemba
Clubbing Chez Ntemba

On March 19th BCA and the NGOs through Blantyre Urban Youth Office issued a warning to all night clubs and pubs in the city to adhere to the Local Government Act and Liquor By-laws and stop supplying or selling alcohol to any person below the age of 18 or face a closure with their licences revoked as well.

Liquor Licensing Act Section 103 stipulates that no person shall supply or sell liquor to any persons who is or appears to be under the age of eighteen.

“Blantyre City Council therefore reminds and cautions all liquor vendors to always adhere to this provision when operating their businesses. The Council shall withdraw licenses from all businesses that violate this provision and may even close the business premises as it is mandated to so,” reads the Order.

But a stakeholders meeting on Friday April 11, 2014 in follow up to the order, noted that prominent night clubs like Chez Ntemba and Stereo were defying the Order with their premises labelled as breeding hub of teen prostitution in the city.

During the meeting, held at Blantyre City Assembly Civic Centre offices, and patronised by aspiring councillor, lawyer Noel Chalamanda, Ministry of Gender officials, police and other interested parties, participants formed a task force to enforce the meeting’s raised concerns.

Young Voices Organisation Director, Ken Mtago told Nyasa Times the task force would ensure the Liquor By-laws and the issued Order are enforced and adhered to by the clubs and pubs owners.

“We have noted that there is a bit of reluctance on the side of the clubs and pubs owner in following the Order. We expect to have a meeting with them, and hold various awareness activities in regards to the youth involvement in drug and alcohol use and abuse,” explained Mtago.

The meeting urged BCC and police to take strict measures in enforcing the by-laws and any other provision that serve the interest of young people now falling victim to drug and alcohol abuse as teen prostitution is quickly becoming a norm in the city.

“Its pathetic thing that over 50 percent of people patronising drinking places in Blantyre Urban are young people below the age of 18. Many young people are involved in crimes, robbery as well as commercial sex work; and are most parents do not even know their children are involved in drugs and alcohol use,” lamented Blantyre District Youth Officer, Daud Ngwala.

Ngwala noted that most youths are involved in drug and alcohol use as well as prostitution due to lack of parental guidance, lack of proper guidance on use of contemporary youth culture, peer pressure, lack of policy enforcement by authorities as well as failure by clubs and pubs owners to enforce set by-laws.

Meanwhile, Blantyre Urban Youth Office has issued a warning aside the BCC Order that it shall conduct a sweeping exercise, if parents, clubs and pubs defy measures undertaken by all stakeholders concerned, where all young people involved in prostitution and drug and alcohol use will be taken into custody and kept at designed places, and shall be released upon an interface meeting with their parents or guardians.

Most popular night clubs and pubs within the city like to host teen time sessions during weekends, which are regarded as opportunity for young people to access drug and alcohol and, indulge in prostitution.

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