Doctor wants court to stop roll out of new ID, passport fees

Dr Magare Gikenyi. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard.

A Nakuru-based surgeon Dr Magare Gikenyi now wants the court to stop the implementation of new charges for various government documents.

Gikenyi filed a suit at the High Court in Nairobi Tuesday and has named the Interior Cabinet Secretary, the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Director Citizen Services Samuel Lukanu, the Attorney General, the National Assembly, and the Senate as respondents in the case.

The Law Society of Kenya, Operation Linda Jamii, Kituo cha Sheria, Katiba Institute, and Tunza Mtoto Coalition are listed as interested parties.

On February 29, 2024, the Interior CS and Director of Citizen Services in a circular sent to all Regional Coordinators, National Registry, County Coordinators, and Sub-County Registrars, notified them to implement new charges on various government documents like Identity cards, passports, and visas.

The CS in the memo noted that the effective date for implementation of the new charges was January 1, 2024. However, the said charges were to be subjected to public participation before taking effect.

The circular indicated that the State Department conducted a comprehensive public participation from November 14 to December 5, 2023.

“The purpose of this circular is therefore to inform you that with effect from 1st March 2024, the revised fees, charges, and levies take effect and all our services will be charged accordingly. The Regional Coordinators are asked to ensure compliance of the same,” reads the circular in part.

Dr Gikenyi, however, argues that public participation was a sham and did not follow the requirements. 

He says the government is not allowed to have an illegal policy of charging the citizens for services rendered through service-user charges, even as the same is financed through taxation.

”Public participation allegedly conducted by the respondents is for cosmetic purposes,” says Dr Gikenyi.

He adds that there was no gazette notice notifying the effective date of new charges.

“Further the respondents have not released any gazette notice following “their charade of public participation.” The respondents have simply casually and capriciously converted the gazette notice of “intent to charge” to “actually charging” these service charges by using a letter/memo as opposed to a gazette notice,” he states.

The increase in the charges, he says, is as high as 20 times the original and has also introduced charges for “Not Previous Registered (NPR)” from zero to Sh300.

“Children born outside the country fee of Sh1 million amount of which are arbitrary and out of reach of many ordinary citizens,” reads the petition in part.

The introduction of new charges for those seeking fresh registration will affect young Kenyans joining the age of majority, making it difficult for them to get Identity cards.

Gikenyi wants the court to declare that the increase in the charges violates constitutional provisions.

He wants the court to quash the Gazette Notices and/or any other person purporting to give authority to increase review charges.