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Kenya orders bars closed for census

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 24 – Kenya on Monday imposed a four-hour closure on all bars, entertainment spots and other public places to facilitate smooth running of the Census exercise.

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti directed District Commissioners to ensure the businesses to remain closed between 6pm and 10pm on Monday and Tuesday.

“I wish to appeal to the owners of bars, nightclubs and other entertainment spots to cooperate and ensure that they remain closed for the Census period,” he said.

Prof Saitoti however said the operators were free to open their premises after the 10pm deadline when the exercise closes.

“I am sure some Kenyans will feel they have been inconvenienced but it is just for some time. Let us take a break from drinking,” the Internal Security Minister said.

The exercise that kicks off on Monday is scheduled to take place between 6am to 10Pm daily for seven days when officials would be going round to confirm where one spent on the night of August 24. President Mwai Kibaki has declared Tuesday a national holiday to enable citizens remain home for the exercise.

Kenyans will be required to volunteer information about everyone who is expected to spend the night in their households including those who will be out at work. For houses where members are not available for a couple of days a call-back card will be left for them to indicate their convenient time.

The government has assured that security will be tightened throughout this period. Prof Saitoti said there would be intense police patrols to ensure that security of members of public and the enumerators is guaranteed. He said the police department had a comprehensive security plan for the period.

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“Let me warn criminals who are hoping to cash in on this that they will be met by a very rude shock. I want to assure all Kenyans that they are all going to be safe,” he reiterated.

Kenyans have also expressed concerns on their security given that the exercise will take place at night. The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) however assured that the enumerators will be clearly identifiable and will be accompanied by a village elder or a member of the resident associations in urban centres.

Enumerators will be wearing a red T-Shirt while the supervisors will be donned in a blue T-shirt and senior supervisors a green T-shirt. The enumerators who will be going to collect the data will have a bag branded with the Coat of Arms, the Census Logo and the KNBS logo.

The exercise carried out after every decade is the fifth since independence and it is expected that close to 40 million Kenyans will be enumerated. During the 1999 exercise the country’s population stood at 28.6 million. During that exercise the government refused to reveal the statistics on tribe and religion attracting criticisms.

Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya has however assured that all the variables of this year’s Census results will be made public after the exercise.

“In December we shall have provisional total national figures and distribution per constituency and districts. Four months later we expect full results showing all the variables shown on the questionnaire,” he said.

The Minister appealed to Kenyans to fully and willingly participate in the exercise to assist the government in its plans.

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