Should closing time for bars be introduced?

Revellers during a slient disco event. File photo

I have never come across a more ridiculous idea than suggesting that bars should have a closing time. As a country, and I say this as someone who has previously worked as an entertainment reporter, our entertainment scene is so boring that we even make the Vatican look like Ibiza. But seriously, why do we need to treat adults as if they are young children? Have we thought about the repercussions this will have on the economy?

Rwanda invests heavily in tourism but it seems we only look at building fancy hotels and promoting wildlife yet there’s also a need to promote night-life tourism. I can’t count the number of times I have had friends complain that our nightlife is dull — meaning there is huge potential for promoting more spending by foreign travellers.

Great cities have great nightlife. How are we supposed to promote our city if there’s nothing to enjoy? Tourists are busy with sight-seeing, but what will they do at night? They’ve no way out but to confine themselves to their hotel rooms. It’s for sure that tourism can’t grow in confinement.

Secondly, before we start going on with enforcing closing time, have we considered the number of people who’ll lose jobs and cost the city tax revenue? By nature, bars start operating around 5 pm, if say the closing time is 2am, bars will lose a lot of revenue which may force some to close down entirely or throw a lot of people out of work; bartenders, janitors, and bouncers. 

Additionally, nightlife is supported by other services such as public transport, which brings money into the city by way of jobs, sales, and general ambience. Taking or limiting entertainment venues will take away a huge chunk of money from people’s pockets and the city as well. And save us from the moralists. Adults have the free will to do as they ought, so attacking them or limiting them takes away that freedom and that is not a solution in itself.

However, I’m also aware of challenges that come with nightlife, mainly noise pollution and public safety although I find them as red herrings. These challenges exist even in more developed countries, with streamlined measures to counter them, we can’t be an exception. And a solution that many people propose is, enforce bar closing hours. This a myopic way of looking at the issue.

Instead, we should enforce sound-level regulations and encourage bar owners to have soundproof venues to reduce unnecessary noise. The issue of security can be solved by having professional bouncers and the use of CCTV. Lastly, if all this fails, we can look into having designated areas meant for the nightlife. This way, we can manage the nightlife and also contribute to our economic prospects.

A friend of mine recently received a call from the dad that his kid brother was in police custody after being arrested for drunk driving. This was in an estate where unfortunately many young people wake up early morning and head straight to a drinking joint. The previous day this chap had arrived at the bar early and left late in the night. This cycle has persisted and efforts to restrict him have failed. 

Would the situation have been better if bars opened and closed at designated times? Who should my friend be talking to?

One is going to argue that if a stipulated time for closing bars is passed then we will go back to being a sleepy city; on the contrary, we will be in the right place at the right time. One will know when to arrive at a joint and the exact time to leave, there will be no room to ask for more because it will be known to all that time X means time up!

It is unpalatable for one to put up a bar close to a residential area and expect to blast loud music till dawn. What happens to parents who have to go to work the next day and to children who would love some sleep? Why drag one to your bar or club without their consent? Causing them to toss and turn instead of snoring.

If somebody wanted to be out in the night partying I’m sure they would find a place to go. Isn’t it insensitive for business owners to keep doing this without any consideration of lives that are affected by not only the noise but the hours of operation too?

Imagine a couple that is having issues; they will be forced to sit down and talk because none of them has a place to run to and chill the whole night with friends. That problem will be dealt with ASAP. But in a scenario where there is a place one can go drink and even sleep at, they will just go there and not be bothered with conflict resolution.

Talking of which, do the licenses give these businesses an equivalent of my 8 to 5 or is it free will? Work till you drop!

That needs to change. If we are to save homes, and restore a healthy sober workforce, if we want sane neighbourhoods, then something needs to be done.

We have a law against noise pollution which has been respected by most. For those who want to save their boyfriends, husbands, brothers and even sisters, someone please say no to bars being found open beyond 9pm on weekdays and probably not later than 1am on weekends.

Then we can all be in our beds early and put in at least seven hours of sleep as recommended by some health experts.