Matiang'i orders all bars shut for two census nights

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i speaks during the official opening of the Water Companies Sports Organisation Games at Embu stadium. [Joseph Muchiri/Standard]

Soccer lovers will be forced to watch this weekend’s Arsenal versus Liverpool game indoors after Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i directed all bars and entertainment spots to close at 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday to enable the country to carry out the Census 2019.

Dr Matiang’i said the early closing of bars will enable Kenyans to arrive at their homes at 6 pm in readiness for the exercise.

"People should be available in their house to be enumerated. We have, therefore, ordered bars to be closed at 5pm to give people an hour to be at their home at 6pm. We are going to ensure that this is enforced," said Dr Matiang’i, who also clarified that Monday next week will not be a public holiday since “the census will take place at night and will not affect the work of Kenyans."

“Tusiwe watu wa kujienjoy tu (Let’s try to limit our leisure). How will we build our country when we are not working?" he posed.

The English Premier League has a massive following in the country, with the two clubs among those closely followed by football enthusiasts.

Kenyans with no access to cable TV at home jam entertainment spots to enjoy their favourite games.

With the Liverpool versus Arsenal game kicking off at 7.30 pm (local time), fans will be forced to either watch it at home or miss the encounter altogether.

The CS, who was speaking after he officially launched the Water Companies Sports Organisation Games at Embu Stadium, said adequate security officers have been mobilised to ensure that the directive is followed to provide security during the enumeration.

“All security personnel on leave have been recalled back to their work stations. The enumerators are residents of the locations where they were recruited and know their way about. They will be accompanied by village elders,” said Matiang’i.

He also directed that the local and international organisations that have expressed interest to act as census monitors to acquire monitors cards from county commissioners of the regions they are based.

“Anyone who purports to be monitoring census without a valid monitors card will be treated as a criminal and will be arrested,” he said.

Matiangi’s 6 pm ‘curfew’ has already rubbed soccer fans the wrong way.

Daniel Ohito, a Liverpool fan said he will watch the match ‘at whatever cost.’

"It is very unfair for CS Matiang'i to disrupt our social life for something that can be done even on Monday. He should declare Monday a public holiday. As a Liverpool fan, I live my life looking forward to such big games as against Arsenal. To tell me to stay indoors when I don't have cabal TV to watch the game will drain me emotionally. I will watch the match at whatever cost,” he said.

In Kirinyaga, County Commissioner Jim Njoka said any bar operator who will be found to be in violation of the directive will have his or her liquor licence cancelled.

He said the order will enable census officials ‘deal with sober families.’

“All the enumerators will be wearing official badges and accompanied by local Nyumba Kumi elders to ensure no criminals will take advantage to rob the residents under the guise of conducting the exercise," he said.