Editor's Comment

Raid on illegal drinking places long overdue

THE night raids by the Lusaka City Council (LCC) last Friday on illegal drinking places that have become nerve centres of all kinds of despicable activities should be commended.

Numerous complaints from residents about these dens of sin, especially the infamous Devil Street in Emmasdale, Lusaka, have received lukewarm response from the local authority in the past.
But this time around the city fathers and mothers resolved that enough was enough and sent their security and State police to restore some sanity.
The council swung into action shutting down 15 bars for flouting the law.
During the operation, the squad sealed off Devil Street, where sex is peddled like sweets and alcohol is taken like water, and rounded up all kinds of characters, especially semi-nude prostitutes, some of who had the guts to shower police with insults.
After the Devil Street clean-up, the combined security team headed to Shadreck in Matero, another den of sin.
About 250 drunkards and loiterers were picked up during the operation.
We are encouraged by the tough talk from the Lusaka City Council’s assistant public relations manager, Brenda Katongola, that what happened in Emmasdale and Matero townships on Friday was the beginning of a protracted war against illegality in the liquor and hospitality sub-sectors.
Not long ago, President Lungu bemoaned the rising levels of immorality in the country and urged the Church to work with the government and other stakeholders to address the situation, and LCC has taken up the challenge.
It is, however, disappointing that some of the owners of the nightclubs in Emmasdale had the courage to try and block the police from closing their premises for flouting the law with impunity, closing in the morning the next day instead of midnight.
It is good that Ms Katongola lectured to the apparently ignorant operators that a nightclub is supposed to close at midnight.
She explained that only restaurants and liquor licence holders are allowed to operate 24 hours, and warned that the council would intensify such operations.
If this was not mere rhetoric, then it is an indication that there will be an improvement in the enforcement of laws regulating liquor trading and operating hours.
It is clear that the traders and their patrons have been taking advantage of the weak enforcement of the law by the council.
We are happy that the council is also targeting noise pollution and confiscating equipment.
In Matero township, musical equipment was confiscated because it was being used by the bars and nightclubs to subject residents to continuous loud music throughout the night, even during the week.
This should be extended to other areas such as Chawama, Kabwata, Garden House and other townships where bars open around 06:00 hours and start playing very loud music till the early hours of the next day.
The council should send an advance party of undercover officers to these areas one evening to see what residents endure daily at the hands of insensitive bar owners and churches.
Speakers are put outside blaring loud sound waves to the irritation of residents.
There is also need to regulate churches conducting the so-called overnight prayers in residential areas during which they play live music the whole night.
The declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation should not be used to worship God in a disorderly manner because He himself says He is no author of confusion.
We hope the Friday raids were not a one-off operation aimed at reaping public relations benefits as has been the case in the past but a reflection of commitment.
Other councils should emulate LCC.


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