Reprieve for Kenyans as court halts new passports, ID charges

Members of the public queuing for services at immigration offices at Nyayo House on September 1, 2023. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The High Court in Nairobi has frozen a gazette notice introducing new charges for all identification documents issued by the government.

Justice Lawrence Mugambi’s orders follow a case by Nakuru-based surgeon Gikenyi Magayi challenging the new charges with the matter set to be mentioned on November 29.

Dr Magayi argued the new fees on national identification cards, passports and births, marriage, and death certificates are unreasonable.

The doctor said the Interior Ministry could not explain the rationale it used to increase the fees, by more than 1,000 per cent, as it did not conduct public participation.

The surgeon said the government is alienating Kenyans. He said the government is attempting to deny Kenyans the right to marry or get a death certificate for their loved ones.

Magayi noted that the majority of Kenyans who are poor but need crucial government documents will miss out on jobs as they cannot afford the Sh1,000 charged on national IDs.

“The said amounts were increased arbitrarily without any formula or public participation. This will affect young Kenyans, making it difficult for them to get Identity cards. This will make it hard for them to get jobs,” said Magayi.

He continued: “It is important to maintain constitutionalism, rule of law, law and order, good governance, non-discrimination and protect the constitution.”

This came after a revelation Kenya Kwanza’s digital ID will come at a cost every ten years. The card appears to be a replica of Huduma Namba, which had a chip just like Maisha Namba.

Other than the digital security features, which are in both cards, all other details remain as those in the old generation cards.

The State increased the cost of getting IDs from Sh100 to Sh1000. Those who lose or want to replace a defaced ID will part with Sh2,000.

In a gazette notice dated November 7, 2023, Interior CS Kithure Kindiki said: “It is notified that pursuant to Regulation 60 of the Public Finance Management (National Government) Regulations, 2015, the CS for National Treasury and Economic Planning has granted the Interior and National Administration Cabinet Secretary the authority for the State Department for Immigration and Citizen Services to revise charges and levies on its services.”

Kenyans were previously charged Sh100 only to apply for a duplicate ID and no charges for registration of a new ID.

Kenyans will pay Sh1,000 to change the particulars or details of their identification card and Sh1,000 to make an identification report, up from Sh100.