Thousands flocked Huduma Namba registration centres yesterday in a last-minute rush to beat today’s deadline for the close of the exercise, before it was extended by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
On Monday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i had announced that the government would not extend the deadline, prompting a dash to enroll before the window closes. But the President extended the exercise citing the long queues witnessed during the day.
Registration centres which only had a smattering of people on the queues for the 45 days the exercise has been running were yesterday teeming.
The queue at the General Post Office (GPO) Huduma Centre was the longest. It snaked along Kenyatta Avenue from as early as 5am.
The situation was replicated in all registration centres across the country. At Kasarani and Roysambu, hundreds of residents jostled on the queues as overwhelmed clerks struggled to contain the melee.
Crafty clerks have taken advantage of the ensuing panic to make a killing by charging for the exercise and offering after hours house calls to families that had not yet enrolled.
At some centres, the data capture forms ran out, forcing people to download the document and have them pre-filled before reporting to the centre.
In other centres, the exercise had to be temporarily halted after the biometric kits ran out of power.
The long queues were reactionary to Matiang’i’s threat that those who won’t have the numbers would not access government services. “We don’t want to force you to register, but we think it will be a reasonable thing to do because getting services is going to be unnecessarily bothersome for you,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Law Society of Kenya has faulted the May 18 deadline and threat to prevent those who will not have registered from accessing government services.
LSK President Allen Gichuhi said the government had deliberately ignored a court order that decreed that the exercise should be voluntary.
“No one should be denied any government services for failing to register for Huduma Namba. The government should not set any deadlines for registration,” LSK said.
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