The Government’s National Liquor Policy proposal to restrict the location of liquor premises away from residential areas would have the major consequence of destroying taverns and related small businesses in townships.
This is according to comments on the proposed policy submitted by the Bay Taverners’ Association‚ which represents most of the taverns in Port Elizabeth‚ to the Department of Trade and Industry.
The association canvassed the views of more than 1‚500 licensed on-consumption taverns in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
Tammy Nqam‚ secretary of the association‚ said‚ “Our taverns are mainly in residential areas and the proposals will shut us down and put us out of business. Unlike wealthy suburbs‚ we do not have separate designated areas that are zoned only for businesses.
“Our taverners are self-employed and create thousands of jobs‚ which are desperately needed in our historically disadvantaged areas. They are an empowerment success story‚ being second only to the SA taxi industry in terms of numbers of black-owned businesses. They are also small businesses‚ which government has recognised as key to the country’s economic growth.”
Nqam said the proposed policy was very detailed in terms of protecting the health and safety of patrons but failed to take account of township realities.
“We are therefore very concerned by the fact that there is no mention of closed off indoor smoking areas in this policy. These are an important facility for our patrons. It is the perfect solution as it protects both smokers and non-smokers. We want the rules for designated indoor smoking areas to be included in the policy‚ as it is in the original act.
“We do know the government wants to outlaw indoor smoking areas and has proposed smoking only be allowed 10 metres from a window‚ entrance or walkway. In most townships every window‚ entrance or walkway is less than 10 metres away from the next window‚ entrance or walkway.
“This is another example of a government which is out of touch with the lives of its people.”
The policy proposals also require that taverns be located at least 500 metres away from schools‚ places of worship‚ recreation facilities‚ rehabilitation or treatment centres‚ residential areas and public institutions. Further‚ no liquor licences shall be issued to petrol services stations‚ premises attached to petrol service stations and premises near public transport.
“If there must be at least 500 metres from our business before you get to a taxi rank or police station or post office or so on‚ you will not find any taverns in our townships. Many township dwellers do not have cars and have to use public transport to get to our taverns. It is also safer for them to use public taxis than to drive to our taverns even if they have car.”
Nqam said they understood government’s concerns on alcohol abuse‚ and the association supported the government in its fight against alcohol abuse‚ but these proposed measures were not the solution.
“We are committed to responsible trading. We do not sell to children or pregnant women‚ and we educate our people in regard to the consumption of liquor and to be responsible. Instead it seems to us that government wants to close our businesses.”