Recently, stakeholders in the hospitality sector have been moving around different hotels, bars and restaurants across the country trying to analyse the extent of underage drinking in order to come up with measures to control it.
During a recent visit to Sundowner, a pub in Kigali, hotel, bar and club owners pointed out the challenges of underage drinking and the fact that youngsters seem to be swarming bars the most.
According to Nelly Ingabire, the proprietor of Stone House Bar and Restaurant, “there is still a big problem of below 18 persons, parading bars.”
She noted that she has resorted to asking for Identity Cards for persons who look like they are below the alcohol consumption age.
“I urge other proprietors in the hospitality sector to come up with a strategy to ensure that this problem is solved,” Ingabire said.
Silver Bihira, the Manager of Sundowner also noted that the bar is against the consumption of alcohol by anyone below the age of 18.
He also stated that the bar has trained guards who handle these cases and always stop underage 18 youth from entering the bar.
“We don’t allow persons under 18 in the bar after midnight. Other bar owners should also find means of ensuring that young people are excluded from bars,” said Bihira.
However, you can’t help but wonder if excluding these kids from bars is enough seeing as we have supermarkets and shops that sell alcohol. This means that they can still buy alcohol from anyone of these other places.
Leonie Uwimana, a mother of five who works in Giporoso market notes that the implementation of this policy will do the country a big favour.
“When young people go to bars, they are faced with other temptations like having random sex with the first person who comes along because of the influence of alcohol. This leads to them acquiring HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancies and other STD’s,” Uwimana said.
She said that the campaign should also implement a policy where under-age persons are not accepted to buy beer from anywhere including shops and supermarkets.
Pelagie Uwamayira, a Youth Representative in Parliament stressed that there is need for more sensitization on this issue so that youth can know why they should avoid alcohol.
She notes that the laws are in place but not everyone abides by them.
Uwamariya adds that it’s not enough to just forcefully stop youth from going to bars without them knowing the dangers of drinking alcohol and why they are being stopped from going to bars.
So while bar owners try to play their role by urging their counterparts to take this policy seriously let everyone take some responsibility.
If one sees a very young person busy guzzling down beer after beer in a bar, find out from the bar owner if it’s really ethical for them to let the kid waste away while they watch.
According to the draft law, parents, guardians or any other person must refrain from giving, selling alcoholic drinks or any other form of drugs to a child.
It further states that children should not be allowed to work in any place where such products are for sale.