Bars with roadside customers are in gross violation of their licence

Dear Editor,

In yesterday’s Stabroek News, I saw that a certain now notorious roadside bar in Kitty is again under fire from one Shamshun Mohamed. The last line in his letter states, “By accommodating these roadside customers you [the bar owner] are condoning their conduct and behaviour and that makes the establishment complicit and responsible.”

 I have seen this phenomenon all across the city, and it’s far more unlawful than even Mr Mohamed thinks. First the licence given states that the liquor being sold, will be sold on the premises if not in the premises thus licensed. When the establishment allows its workers to serve liquor to these “across the road customers” they are in fact violating their licence and the law.

A liquor licence usually states that the licence is for the sale of liquor on or in the premises. To sell to people parked in vehicles across the road would require a different liquor licence which none of these people have, in addition, when someone decides to open a bar, they decide on how many customers they will have, and how many workers they need to service them within the area defined. They have to tell the Central Housing & Planning Authority, the Public Health Authorities, and the Fire Department, how they will renovate their building structure and what their intentions are as to how they will serve their customers.

 I don’t believe that anyone would get a licence to open a bar today, if they state that they will be serving people parked in cars or sitting in seats provided by the establishment across the road from the establishment. If the workers have to go to vehicles or to serve people across or along a public road because the bar in question plays the music so loud that no one can have a conversation on the premises without blowing out his/her vocal chords out, the end result is, as I have observed myself, that the patrons move off the premises to the opposite side of the road to get away from the loud noise, from music which the owner is actually paying someone to play on the premises. Imagine Editor, paying someone to play music on your bar’s premises which chases the customers across the road and up the street. Imagine what it does to the neighbours. These people have my complete sympathy.   

Also, in the event that one of these workers is attacked or hit by a passing vehicle when crossing the road to serve customers, who exactly will be responsible for compensation to them? 

Wouldn’t playing the music at a more reasonable level, in such places, cause the customers to stay on the premises and not seek to get as far away from the noise as they can? Will it not make service more effective since the customers are not scattered all over the block hiding from the loud music of the establishment? Will it not enhance management and supervision having the workers on the floor of the building in which they work? Will it not create a safer environment for its workers? And will it not make the establishment more welcome in the neighbourhood? What is wrong with us? Who exactly are enforcing our laws? If I can’t get a licence today from the lawful entities who give permission for bars and liquor licences, to open a bar with “drive in customers” using the public roadway, then no one with an existing bar can have these privileges, since the constitution states that we are all equal.

So Mr. Mohamed, to your statement that “While it can be argued, that the loud music emanates from the vehicles of ‘drive up customers’ who are not actually inside the establishment but on the roadway,” if you apply the formula I have outlined above, the people in these cars are themselves not only breaking many laws, but the establishment is also breaking the law and endangering its employees just by serving them.

So for a bar, the concept of a “drive up customer” in his own car playing music louder than the establishment does, is not only unlawful but it is ludicrous. 

Yours faithfully,

Tony Vieira.

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