The decision by the Lusaka City Council to introduce health permits for bars and night clubs is not only opportune but long overdue.
This is because a visit to many of our bars and so-called night clubs is always met with a filthy environment, ready to produce all kinds of diseases.
Often times these places do not have usable toilets or running water and what they usually refer to as toilets are places filled up with human excreta while urine graces the floors.
And patrons would be perfectly happy to be roasting meat or eating meals prepared at nearby equally filthy restaurants without fear of diseases.
Our prayer however is for the Council to ensure its laws are carried out to the letter and where possible shut down bars and night clubs whose owners and their employees fail to meet regulatory health standards.
It is absolutely inane to aim your gun when you have no intentions whatsoever of pulling the trigger.
The council should without any further delays swing into action to inspect bars and night clubs to ensure that they are operating within the confines of the law.
Council public relations manager George Sichimba blissfully says in an effort to raise hygiene standards in public places, the local authority will introduce health permits for bars and nightclubs.
Mr Sichimba says the decision to introduce health permits was made at the council’s ninth ordinary meeting recently and in accordance with the Public Health Act Cap 295 of the Laws of Zambia.
He says the resolution was made to correct the deteriorating health standards in the city, especially in bars and night clubs
In these efforts, we fully support the council’s earlier resolve not to issue or renew liquor licences to shops and bars in markets without health certificates.
It is also reassuring the council’s need to also regulate food preparation in markets to promote hygiene.
There are reports of people near these eating places defecating and urinating in opaque beer and plastic containers which they discard anywhere, thereby posing serious health challenges.
“The Council approved the introduction of Health Permits and Food Handlers’ Medical Certificates for Restaurants in markets in accordance with the provisions of the Public Health Act Cap 295 and the Food and Drugs Act Cap 303 of the Laws of Zambia,” he says
We are further elated that the council will now regulate funeral parlours following a report and subsequent tour of some of them at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) by the health services committee, which revealed that many of them were operating illegally. Sad indeed.
Apart from that, Mr Sichilima says it will be mandatory for all vehicles used as hearses to be branded so that they will not be used for other purposes.
The same measure has been extended to sellers of coffins at UTH to restrict themselves to their business and stop advertising services beyond what they can offer.
The massage parlours have not been spared in this move either as they will now be required to stick to the services for which they are established.
“The council resolved that massage parlours which have mushroomed in the city must be regulated so that they operate according to the standards of the Public Health Act and that massage parlours should be obtaining Class B Health Permits and medical certificates for workers to avoid infectious diseases,” he said.
While the emphasis this time round will be on health, we would also urge LCC to go a step further and introduce a by-law for bars and night clubs to stop them from entertaining underage patrons.
It has become a common sight today to see children patronising bars and night clubs at awkward times even in their uniforms-and these are the people we call future leaders.
But of course the council on its own, can do very little and will therefore rely on full cooperation from members of the general public to report to the local authority bars and night clubs allowing underage patrons in their premises.