Damaged beer bottles drag Nile Breweries, Gulu bar owners to confrontation  

(Last Updated On: 8 April 2024)

Gulu | Gulu bar owners are still stuck with millions of empty Nile Breweries bottles after the beer company refused to repossess the alleged damaged and cracked empties.

James Akena is the proprietor of Plan B Bar and Lounge. He also doubles as the acting chairman of Gulu City Bar Owners and Stockist Association.

Akena told tndNews that for the past 14 days, the association has been confronted with a perplexing situation where Nile Breweries Limited has been refusing to accept bottles purportedly deemed to be damaged.

“Despite our diligent efforts to seek clarification from both the company and its distributors, Lira Resort, we have been met with a frustrating lack of transparency and satisfactory explanation. Lira Resort representing Nile Breweries Limited, has regrettably conveyed that they have been instructed not to collect bottles that are deemed unacceptable by the brewery,” Akena said.

Akena further stated that in response to the unjust and unreasonable treatment, the association resolved to boycott the stocking and sale of Nile Special and Club products until Nile Breweries Limited responded to their concerns.

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The bar owners want the breweries to agree and accept the bottles in question.

However, Akena told this publication that the association acknowledges their responsibility for damages that occur at consumption points, and it is disconcerting that even bottles exhibiting no visible signs of damage are being rejected.

“We duly inform and appeal to our esteemed customers to adhere to this boycott as we foster a lasting solution, and urge Nile Breweries Limited to promptly address our concerns and engage in constructive dialogue to resolve this matter amicably,” Akena said.

Richard Komakech, Supervisor at BJz Bar & Grill revealed that they are stuck with over 100 crates (2000 bottles) of Nile Special and Club beers that need to be disposed of.

According to Komakech, they have nowhere to dispose of these bottles since Gulu City Council does not have any proper disposal grounds for glasses which do not decompose.

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“They cannot start rejecting the bottles without informing the bar owners, yet we are renting and for any loss, why can they storm us like this? They need to collect it and take it where they can be recycled or dumped,” Komakech said.

“Where will we dump them for the sake of our environment?” he asked.

Franker Ajok, Manager of Tripple O depot, a stockist in Gulu City also told tndNews that they have 120 rejected crates and she is anticipating that it will increase since there are more crates in stock and still in the market.

Ajok further said that before the boycott, they had just stocked more than 400 crates of Nile Special and Club beers and she is now worried about how many more bottles will be added to the rejected ones.

“Our company has no dumping site for these glasses and we are renting; it will ruin the progress of our business and competition in the market, and we may end up making a lot of losses because our customers will not come to buy these products,” Ajok said.

Charles Amuku, area sales manager of Greater Northern Uganda (also consisting of the West Nile and Lango sub-regions) told tndNews that they are not rejecting all bottles but those with cracks and damages are not accepted.

Amuku further said that for the past years, Nile Breweries Limited was the one meeting the cost of disposal of the damaged bottles during refill but now they have changed the system so that the cost will be met by the dealers.

“We do not have land to dispose of these damaged and cracked bottles; for many years, we have been meeting the cost but now, our system has changed, you the dealer or bar owner or stockist will meet the cost of disposing of these bottles once damaged or cracked,” Amuku explained.

“We will not collect any broken or damaged bottles which can cost us financial loss. You will have to incur the loss because we supply you with good bottles and we expect to collect the same with no damage,” he added.

He further urged the bar owners to secure land to dispose of these rejected damaged bottles because the company has no such land and will not accept any cracked or damaged bottles from any client.

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“We have been organising training to skill bar owners on our new systems but these bar owners take our regional training jokingly and this is the result of not taking your business seriously,” Amuku said.

Statistics obtained by this publication indicate that Masaki Lounge has 12 crates, Plan B Lounge has about 20 crates, and Romsco Stockist has over 100 crates. Tripple O Stockist has over 100 crates, Password Bar & Lounge has 23 crates and Kweyo Shoppers has 28 crates.

Another is Lira Resort Distributor with over 280 crates, all rejected by Nile Breweries Limited.

Emmanuel Njuki, the head of legal & corporate affairs at Nile Breweries Limited said the company is doing a nationwide quality check on all their products and this is geared towards maintaining the standard of their products.

According to Njuki, their partners (bar owners, distributors and others) should not complain since it is a quality check they are doing on their products to ensure that their consumers get quality products.

“I don’t understand why anyone who is dealing in these breweries will complain about us checking the standard because we want quality for our consumers and we are doing this across the country and where there is some resistance, because our people may have not been doing this, we try to work together,” Njuki said.

However, Njuki said that the company wants to maintain its standard in the market because it is a beverage company with contents being consumed by many people. Thus, he said they have been engaging everyone in their value chain on proper handling of glasses.

Njuki further said that the main reason why Nile Breweries Company Limited went into quality handling of the glass is because there is a cost attached to it, and anyone who does not handle the glass properly is going to complain.

“We continue to train and engage them on how best they can handle the glass because there is a standard we want to ensure; we recycle all the glasses that we were unable to use and so if our partners are saying that they have a lot of bottles that they are unable to dispose of, they do not have to dispose of, they simply need to alert us,” Njuki noted.

“They can either go through our sales representatives and distributors to pick those bottles and we transport them and give them to our motor suppliers who will pick them and recycle them into a glass bottle, that should not be a problem at all.”

By Okot Lil Romeo and Okello Jesus Ojara.

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