Closing bars for census a bad and costly idea

In Summary

• Closing all bars and restaurants to keep men at home for the census was senseless. Economy lost more than it gained.

• The numbers of man-hours lost and billions of shillings sacrificed only made sense to Interior ministry bureaucrats who could drink good whiskey at home. 

The 2009 census report that was launched at the KICC in Nairobi. /FILE
The 2009 census report that was launched at the KICC in Nairobi. /FILE

Census information plays a key role in planning the economic, social and political life of a nation for the next decade.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics rolled out a robust and sustained media campaign.

And to ensure, in the opinion of Interior ministry bureaucrats, that men would be at home on census weekend, all bars and restaurants were ordered closed.

 

On the face of it, a harmless decision conceived with a good motive.

But it has adverse consequences that should have been first considered and debated thoroughly.

The numbers of man-hours lost and the billions sacrificed on account of an exercise scheduled for an entire week makes no financial sense.

And to make the decision even more senseless and damaging, large swathes of the country were not visited by the enumerators. Clerks do not work beyond midnight. 

The logical decision would have been to close bars and restaurants between 6pm and midnight. 

Business should have been allowed to continue because Kenya espouses the merits of a  24-hour economy.

Kenyans have been counted in the past without businesses grinding to a halt as they were on Saturday and Sunday nights.

 

We take the considered view that the economy lost more than it gained by the business closures.