ID fee waiver gives two million chance to vote

The State has waived the Sh300 fee for obtaining ID cards [Photo:Standard]

By Cyrus Ombati

An estimated two million Kenyans without Identity Cards can breathe easier after the State finally waived the Sh300 fee for obtaining the critical document.

Following the waiver, many youths who risked failing to register as voters will now get their chance to get on the Voters’ Roll as long as they apply and get their IDs on time.

Voter registration by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is awaiting the arrival of biometric kits from Canada for the exercise to kick off.

Canada came to the aid of IEBC through the Government after the electoral body cancelled a tender to procure a similar kit when questions were raised about the process.

The Ministry of State for Immigration and Registration of Persons has been charging a fee of Sh300 for duplicate Identity cards, which discouraged those who had lost their cards from acquiring new ones.

Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang had asked Treasury to waive the fees, a request the latter granted on Monday.

In a statement, the Treasury said the waiver is to “enable all eligible Kenyans to obtain Identity Cards without any hindrance and to replace lost ones as we approach the next General election.”

Millions of IDs have been lying uncollected at various registration centres across the country because the applicants were unable to raise the fee.

Some of them were replacements for lost IDs. Treasury estimates that over two million eligible youth will benefit from the waiver to enable them register as voters ahead of the March 4 General Election.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission have targeted to register six million new voters. This will increase the number of registered voters to 18 million, up from 12.4 million.

The statement from Treasury said the waiver followed a request on July 12 by Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang for the same.

Kajwang had announced the waiver at a public forum, but explained it could only be implemented after consent from the Treasury.

County registrars of persons said they could not implement the minister’s directive until they received official communication from Treasury.

Those seeking IDs since early July when the minister made the announcement had been required to pay the fee.

More people are now expected to apply for IDs considering the ministry has received Sh1.6 billion from the Treasury to roll out the mobile registration programme.

Kajwang has urged the youth to take advantage of the waiver and obtain IDs. The ministry has also relaxed measures for married women seeking to update their records.

“Newly married women are no longer forced to seek consent from their parents while the issue of affidavits has also been done away with,” Kajwang said.

The waiver of fees comes after the ministry increased the fee for acquiring passports and other vital documents. The cost of acquiring a new ordinary 32-page passport has been increased to Sh4,500 from Sh3,040.

At the same time, Treasury has approved additional funds amounting to Sh410 million from the Civil Contingency Fund (CCF) to boost surveillance against Ebola, a dreaded disease that has recently been reported in neighboring Uganda.

The Ministry of Medical Services had requested the funding intended to equip Kenyan hospitals bordering Uganda, including the Lake Victoria region, Busia, Malava and towns along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway to curb any threat of an outbreak.

The ministry had sought the emergence funds on August 8 for the purchase of non-pharmaceutical commodities. These include surgical facemasks, safety goggles, surgical gloves, alcohol disinfectant detergents, body bags, mortuary sheets, overalls and plastic aprons.

“This is an emergency situation that requires all relevant Government agencies to be alert and to take the necessary actions,” read the statement.

“We wish to inform the public that the Government has taken the necessary measures and the situation is still being monitored to ensure that the deadly disease does not spread into our country.”