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THERE is no doubt that taverns and shebeens are drowning the lives of our children probably due to lack of friendly recreational facilities.

It is also a fact today that there are more taverns and shebeens in Zambian communities which are driving youths to drink with some starting as early as at the age of 13 because alcohol is easily accessible.

What is perhaps more scandalous is that the law on ‘no selling’ of alcohol to children under 18 is not fully enforced.

Seeing children in school uniform storm the streets and malls after writing examinations has become a common sight and a new notion.

Some youngsters have been spotted drinking alcohol at taverns and shebeens in the sprawling townships even during school hours.

The probability is that this situation has already replicated itself across Zambia and if not checked now, the future leaders will be history soon.

We truly think that it is high time government dealt effectively with this problem.

Government could consider coming up with youth centres which must have programmes that will see children engage in sport and other youth-related recreational activities to keep them from shebeens and taverns.

We also think that children themselves should be encouraged to establish ‘youth clubs’ and come up with activities they want to participate in.

Children are our future, so we need to invest in them. All of us – parents, teachers, civil society and Government – must protect our children from unscrupulous tavern and shebeen owners who sell them alcohol.

It is perceptible, too, that apart from these illegal beer sales, illicit drinking outlets have the tendency of playing loud music at odd hours thereby immensely contributing to noise pollution.

For those who may not know it, noise pollution can cause hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances and other harmful effects.

Sound becomes annoying when it either interferes with normal activities such as sleeping, conversation, or disrupts or reduce one’s quality of life.

Medical experts say noise is an unseen physical force in wave form that disrupts the electromagnetic system of our cognition and its proper and harmonious functioning and brings chaotic features in our body systems.

So the complaints by some residents of Chilenje Township who have appealed to the Lusaka City Council to demolish the illegal drinking outlets and find amicable ways to stop the illegal sale of the alcohol in the area are justified.

Many residents complained of an increase in the number of illegal outlets and how negatively it is impacting the community.

One of not-so-amused residents, Alice Chikwala, says the noise from the shebeen near her house stops her from having good night sleep as it starts as early as 06:00 hours till late hours at night.

She complains that apart from noise, the imbibers often yell abusive language the whole night which is not good for the children as well.

“This township is never free of people who are always drunk as the drinking places are open all the time. Most of these shebeens have been established in homes where they are selling these commodities. We want the council to move in and demolish these illegal structures,” she says.

Another concerned resident, Wilson Nkuni, says another problem is that these outlets sell their alcohol very cheaply that even the young children have access to the commodity.

“Illegal drinking places are a big problem in our community because they have contributed to the high levels of theft. There are a lot of illegal activities such as sex and dagga smoking that is happening in these illegal outlets. It is high time that the local authorities clamped the illegal drinking outlets because they are a nuisance to the society,” he says.

These are not cheap cries from concerned citizens and the buck truly stops on our LCC which should up its inspections in townships to cage law breakers.

People have complained enough and it is now time for action to bring about sanity to our city.

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