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Kenyans' agony of passports 'taking too long'

Members of the public queue at an Immigration office waiting to be served. [File, Standard]

The Auditor General has faulted the Directorate of Immigration department for not issuing passports within the required timeline of 14 days.

One of Kenyans’ biggest complaints on social media is the pace of processing of passports, with some taking months to be issued. The auditor general, in the Report of the Auditor-General for The National Government for The Year 2020/2021 Ministries, Departments and Agencies, says that the processing takes up to more than half a year.

“The Directorate of Immigration Service delivery charter indicates that issuance of a passports will require one to 14 days. However, audit inquiries and review of sampled applications indicated that the process was taking longer, with some cases taking as long as six months after the applications and payments are made,” the report indicates.

“For instance, applications done in the month of March 2022 were being booked for biometric capture in August 2022 in Nairobi - more than five months after application and payments. Further, there were notable delays in the final printing of the passports after the biometrics had been taken with some cases lasting for more than six months. This implies that the Department took up to one year to process a passport against the 14 days provided in the service delivery charter,” the report indicates.

Continues to drag

While more stations were opened up to make the process of passport application easier, it continues to drag on, inconveniencing many applicants.

The race to have people register the new e-passports was intensified in 2019, with Interior CS Fred Matiang'i saying that there was 2.5 million Kenyans with the old passports, and willing to transition to the electronic ones. September of that year was set as the deadline for acquisition of the electronic ones at any of the new centres opened in various counties.

The centres, in Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret, Garissa and Embu were to ease the burden off Nyayo House in Nairobi, where a lot of activity was happening and long queues being witnessed daily.

But the slow pace of issuance of passports continues to bedevil the Immigration department.

“Although Management explained the reasons for delay to be due to overstretched printer capacity, the actual waiting time for a passport is contrary to the Department’s service charter,” says the report by the office of the auditor general.