The census needs not bring the country to a standstill

During the 1989 census, marred in controversy, I had the unsavoury assignment of collecting data from some uncooperative foreigners living near the United Nations complex in Gigiri, Nairobi.

They would refuse to open their gates, unleash their fierce dogs or sometimes disdainfully send their workers to answer the questions, often requiring police intervention.

In today’s digital census, a special team comprising immigration officials, diplomatic police and census officials should be assigned to such hostile neighbourhoods.

The security of census officials should not be compromised, and those who refuse to cooperate should attract the wrath of the authorities.

With Kenyans currently obsessed with family planning, couples opting to marry late or staying single, and the increasing preference for hired workers over free family labour in the agriculture sector, it is highly unlikely that our population will have risen by much.

Satellite towns like Kitengela will definitely grab the millions of people who used to reside in Nairobi.

Just like elections and national examinations, census officials who may be tempted to tamper or file incorrect data should be prosecuted.

Here comes the long-awaited national census this weekend.

What has really surprised many is the directive to close alcohol joints today and tomorrow. The manner in which this closure has been ordered is a clear indication that drinking joints are habitats of many Kenyans.

Other factors like street families, those residing in hotels, those at work and probably many others, including the evicted ones by landlords due to rent arrears, should be put into consideration.

No one is against being counted.

But bringing life to a sudden halt for a whole two days — today and tomorrow — is ridiculous.

Stopping public service vehicles and motorists in the middle of their journey by pulling them out to check whether they have been counted is equally ridiculous.

Counting of people and houses is a weeklong exercise. Why then deny or meddle with Kenyans’ lives for two nights in a row?

Bars and entertainment social places are facing huge losses. We need not create a two-day dusk to dawn curfew just because of the census.


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