Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki on Friday made an impromptu visit to Immigration Department offices at Nyayo House to assess the progress of the issuance of passports.
This was the second time this week after another visit on Thursday where he came face to face with the challenges Kenyans are grappling with to obtain travel documents and National identity cards.
Kindiki said he will ensure that passport applicants receive their documents within a week.
“We are working to make sure that applicants get their passports within a week’s time and if it is an emergency, we are planning for applicants to receive it within 24 hours,” he said.
He said a special counter has been added for expectant and lactating mothers, who, Kindiki said are not supposed to line up for a longer period.
On Thursday, the CS said a Sh1.3 billion government allocation will ramp up operations at the Immigration Department.
According to Kindiki, the move would reduce the current backlog of 44,000 pending passports in a fortnight.
The Interior CS said the Immigration Department was awaiting the disbursement of Sh1.3 billion, allocated by the National Treasury.
The said amount, he added, would be used to improve production, tripling it from the current 5,000 passports a day to 15,000, as well as refurbish the immigration equipment and offices.
He announced that the ministry had reduced the backlog from the 58,000 recorded last week by adding a night production shift.
“For more than two years, we have underinvested in the provision of this important service,” Kindiki stated, noting that part of the revenue raised by the department ought to be retained by the office.
“This department generates Sh20 billion annually. The equipment causing us problems is much cheaper. For instance, a new printer costs in the region of Sh100 million to Sh150 million”, Kindiki added, noting it was easy to transform the sector owing to the fact that Kenyans are charged for the service.
He also promised refunds for Kenyans who received smaller passport booklets than they had paid for. During his inspection, Kindiki interacted with Kenyans seeking passport services and immigration officers “to find out their experiences”.
He warned of stern action against brokers, corrupt officials, and “idlers” around Nyayo House, saying they would enhance surveillance.
“The crackdown is continuous, intelligence-led, and is overt and covert. We have flagged a number of people who have been terrorising members of the public and we will prosecute them. The public cannot be complaining in vain, there must be a few people soiling our name,” he added.
Four people were last week arrested for seeking bribes from applicants to have their passport applications fast-tracked.
The government has announced a countrywide crackdown on passport brokers. Immigration and Citizens Services Principal Secretary Julius Bitok said the crackdown which started with the arrest of four people at Nyayo House recently will be extended to all stations in the country.