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THE Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance in South Africa (SAAPA in SA) is set to hand in memorandum to BP South Africa on Wednesday to stop the petroleum company’s plan to apply for licences to sell alcohol in shops on petrol station forecourts.
SAAPA is a network of non-governmental organisations that advocate for evidence-based alcohol policies in countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
In June, BP became the first petroleum company to receive a licence to sell alcohol in a forecourt shop. BP started selling wine in its store in Radiokop, north of Joburg, using the slogan “wine on the go”.
In a statement, SAAPA in SA said alcohol-related harm costs South Africa R38 billion annually, and alcohol was the most abused drug in the country and the most harmful drug for users and non-users alike.
“It is also the third-largest contributor to death and disability after unsafe sex/sexually transmitted infections and interpersonal violence, both of which are themselves influenced by alcohol consumption.”
The lobbyists accused BP of fuelling alcohol-related harm by encouraging their forecourt shops to apply for liquor licences. They said the Gauteng Provincial Government had made a mistake by approving the first licence.
SAAPA in SA director Maurice Smithers said: “We have called on all provincial liquor authorities to implement an immediate moratorium on the awarding of all such licences.”
The lobbyists said the decision to grant petrol stations liquor licences was problematic, because South Africa’s Liquor Policy of 2016 recommends that premises attached to petrol stations should not be awarded liquor licences.
“The long-awaited Liquor Amendment Bill of 2016, which was on the 2016 policy, specifically outlaws the granting of licences to such premises. So the failure by the national Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition to fast-track what were deemed by Cabinet to be important and urgent amendments to the law has created the space for provinces to decide for themselves whether to award such licences,” SAAPA in SA said.
The group warned of the risks associated with selling alcohol at petrol stations.
“This will also lead to an increase in drink-driving. It will serve to undermine the efforts of the Department of Transport to reduce alcohol-related traffic incidents through the Road Traffic Amendment Bill, which is currently being considered by Parliament,” it said.
The lobbyists called on the government to address this issue urgently.
SAAPA in SA has launched an online petition calling on the public to support its call for the ban on petrol stations being granted liquor licences.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE