The Kenyan government has extended working hours for census personnel across the country in order to speed up the process amid concerns that many households were yet to be reached.
An interministerial committee led by Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho on Monday extended the enumeration time in populous urban centres from 6am to 10pm.
It will end at 9pm in the rest of the country. Initially, the headcount was to begin at 6am and end at 6pm countrywide.
“Kenyans think it’s taking too long for them to be counted. We have agreed to extend the working hours, especially in the urban areas because they are concentrated, from 6am to 10pm.
“This means that enumerators in Nairobi, Mombasa Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu Kakamega, Nyeri, Kiambu, Thika, Machakos and Kisii will stop knocking on your doors at 10pm,” Dr Kibicho said.
He was accompanied by his counterparts Saitoti Torome (Ministry of Planning), Jerome Ochieng (ICT) and Joe Okuda (Tourism).
Kenyans online took the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) to task, accusing the agency of keeping them waiting in their houses in vain.
Aware of the concerns, the committee also redeployed 10,000 enumerators who had been assigned special areas like prisons, street families and hotels to back up their colleagues counting people at home to speed up the exercise.
“Those who have not been reached yet, we are coming and we have time. Before the 31st, all households will have been reached,” Dr Kibicho said.
The principal secretaries said the count had been running smoothly and had done better on Sunday.
However, they regretted cases of insecurity and obstruction, with 35 such cases recorded across the country. Sixteen people are already in court for obstructing enumerators while the rest are being processed.
“It’s against the law for anyone to impede their work. This borders on criminality,” Dr Kibicho said. “We have not only arrested civilians, but also some of our own officers who are hampering smooth flow, including chiefs and KNBS staff.”
Prof Torome appealed to enumerators who have not been paid the initial Sh2,100 stipend to be patient, saying they were in the process of sending them the money.
MPs, in a campaign to have their constituents enumerated in their rural homes, led by example. The leaders want to avoid having the boundaries of their constituencies reviewed.
“I was counted at Mukurwe-ini together with our family. I have done my part in serving Mukurwe-ini,” local MP Anthony Kiai said.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i had cautioned politicians against instructing urban dwellers to travel to their rural homes for the census.
In Nyeri, former President Mwai Kibaki was the first to be counted at his retirement home in Mweiga, Kieni Constituency. For a long time, he preferred his Muthaiga home.
ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru was also counted at his Chaka home in Kieni East. “This is home. It is a weekend and I like to come here often to relax,” he said.
Regional Commissioner Wilfred Nyangwanga said people likely to be overlooked were also been included.
“Street families, hospitals and prisons are what we call the special categories and we prioritised them by counting them on the first night alongside the VIPs in the region who include, governors, MPs, and Cabinet secretaries,”
The nationwide census began on August 24 and will end on August 31.
The government has assured citizens of data privacy, saying it will be used strictly for planning.
By Daily Nation