PS promises to quicken processing of passports amid crackdown against cartels at Nyayo House

Passport applicants at the Immigration Department at Nyayo House in Nairobi on August 31, 2023. [Boniface Okendo Standard]

You will now receive your passport within the shortest time possible, after application, as the government carries out a crackdown on cartels that have been frustrating the processing of the documents.

Immigration and Citizen Services PS Julius Bitok said they are determined to deal with corruption at the Immigration Department and smoothen services.

He said their efforts are already bearing fruit as they have since reduced the backlog of passports that were pending processing to 45,000, from 100,000, vowing to continue the cleanup of the department.

The PS's sentiments came as the Ministry of Interior intensified a crackdown on suspected brokers linked to passport issuance racket, including the brokers who have been extorting money from applicants. 

Bitok, who spoke in Mombasa during a meeting of the National Assembly Committee on Delegated Legislation on Thursday, said the remaining 45,000 passports will be processed within two weeks.

Immigration and Citizen Services PS Julius Bitok at a press conference in Mombasa on Thursday, August 31, 2023. [Source: Immigration Office]

“Right now, we are producing around 3,600 passports per day. We have managed to reduce the backlog to around 45,000. We are projecting that in the next two weeks, there will be no backlog,” said the PS.

The PS said the crackdown on cartels will be extended to other towns and cities.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki who made a surprise visit to Nyayo House, Nairobi, on Thursday, had earlier told Parliament he had received credible information that among the contributing factors to delayed passport processing is corruption.

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki during his tour to the Immigration Department at Nyayo House in Nairobi on August 31, 2023. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The CS told the National Administration and Internal Security Committee of the National Assembly that he is determined to clean up the mess in all agencies under his ministry.

In Mombasa, Bitok said: “The crackdown that is going on at Nyayo House will be extended to other cities and towns, including Mombasa, Kisumu, and Kisii. We will extend the operation to all other places where there have been complaints from Kenyans who have been unable to get services because of corruption.”

Some Kenyans have complained that they applied for the travel documents in January and up to today, they are yet to receive them. Others have complained of how officials at the Immigration Department have demanded bribes to release their passports.

Prior to this, four people suspected of soliciting bribes and defrauding Kenyans seeking immigration services were arrested by detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

A week ago, Prof Kindiki acknowledged that corruption is deeply rooted at the immigration office, promising to clean up the mess once and for all.

The CS even declared Nyayo House a crime scene and spoke of the possibility of selling off the place. "We will rid that place of all criminals including the brokers who extort money from passport applicants."

The ministry has introduced a double-shift working formula, which includes night shifts, to fast-track the processing of passports.