More than 60,000 applicants to get passports in 21 days, PS Julius Bitok says

Immigration and Citizen Services PS Prof Julius Bitok displays the passport blank booklets. [Courtesy]

Over sixty thousand applicants who have been waiting for Kenyan passports will now receive them within three weeks.

Immigration and Citizen Services PS Prof Julius Bitok said the backlog will be cleared within 21 days after the Government received over 100,000 passport blank booklets.

"It will take you 21 days to receive your passport if you apply on the e-Citizen platform," said Bitok.

Latest records from the Immigration Department reveal that 63,265 passports applications are pending issuance, the bulk of them being the popular 34-page A-series.

The backlog has been attributed to delays in the supply of booklets and a surge in the demand for passports especially by Kenyans seeking jobs outside the country and students enrolling in foreign institutions.

Bitok said the Government is in talks with potential investors for the possibility of investing in local manufacturing of passports for faster and comparatively cheaper supplies.

"We're in talks with investors for Public-Private Partnerships (PPT) so that we can manufacture and print these documents here in Kenya," he said.

With the delivery, the production of 15,358 A series, 10,045 and 37,810 B and C series passports respectively that have been queued due to booklets shortage will now be cleared. Bitok noted that the new stock will adequately cover all passport series and there is therefore no need for applicants to revise their preferred choices.

He urged more Kenyans to take advantage of the digitization of governments services and apply for passports through the e-Citizen online platform.

Four months ago, government had attributed passport delays to printer breakdown.

The Immigration Department's Head of Corporate Affairs Ambassador Isaac Ochieng said some Sh150 million would be needed for a new machine.

Ochieng made the revelations on Tuesday, November 29, when Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki made a surprise visit to the Immigration Department at Nyayo House in Nairobi.

Kindiki had gone to "inspect services at the headquarters that issues passports and other essential documents", the minister's communications team said in a statement.

"This (Kindiki's impromptu visit) follows complaints from members of the public about long delays in the processing of passports, visas, work permits and other vital documents, leading to protests from frustrated would-be travellers, potential expatriates and other inconvenienced clients," said a statement from the Ministry of Interior.

Kindiki said when he sought answers for the delays in passport processing, the Immigration Department's Head of Corporate Affairs Isaac Ochieng said there's a printer breakdown that had occasioned the hitch.

The printer was repaired two months ago, resolving a one-year delay in issuance of passports.