Kindiki points fingers at suppliers as passports backlog hits 1.7 million

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki before the National Assembly's Committee on Regional Integration to deliberate on the status of Passport Issuance on  March 21, 2024. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Passport issuance delay at Nyayo House, Nairobi, is expected to persist for another 100 days, further frustrating Kenyans seeking employment abroad. 

Already, the passports backlog has hit 1,724,000 even as the Government admitted that vendor wars could be stalling the process. 

Interior and National Administration Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki yesterday told MPs that the inability of suppliers to provide the required volume of raw materials had delayed the passport printing and issuance process.

But Prof Kindiki promised to clean up operations at Nyayo House in the next 10 days to ensure efficiency by transferring of security administration officers. 

Already, procurement officials have already been transferred. 
And in war against graft, he said, 17 officials had been arrested at Nyayo House. 

Further, the the CS vowed to end the long queues at Nyayo House by implementing a public communication mechanism to stop Kenyans whose passports are not ready from visiting the premises. 

"It is disrespectful to have elderly Kenyans, breast feeding mothers and others queue at Nyayo House day in and day out. We will stop the crowding at Nyayo House from next week somehow," he said.  

This was in response to a question by MPs on what measures he had taken to ease operations at Nyayo House. 

Appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Regional Integration, the CS revealed that suppliers were unable to keep up with Kenya's demand of 3 million passport printing booklets every 90 days and could only supply half the volume. 

"I regret to admit that we (the Interior Ministry) have not achieved the targets that we set as government in terms of cleaning up and issuing passports," said Kindiki.

"Our initial commitment was complicated by new other state of affairs some of which were beyond the control of government."

The CS explained that the demand for passports had further surged because of the government's heightened efforts to export Labour.

Initially, he said, the backlog stood at 200,000 passports but lack of funding worsened the situation. 

"We are doing our best. We now have money and people to do the printing but the magnitude of this mess can only be solved within a few months time," Kindiki said. 

He also told the parliamentary team that he had directed the National Intelligence Service to investigate the possibility of vendor wars related to passport raw materials supply and printing.

The committee led by Kipipiri MP Wanjiku Muhia- also heard that the government had reached out to international suppliers to bridge the raw materials deficit but they had all confessed to being unable to meet the set demands within the specific time frame. 

"Now that we have the money, the suppliers are telling us that this problem will be out of the way in the next 90 to 100 days," said the CS. 

The committee also asked Kindiki to explain why the delays had persisted despite Parliament approving the ministry's requests.  

"You have asked for a lot including staff, money and officers but issues on your side remain the same," said Committee Vice chair Farah Salah. 

Muhia told the CS to put the ministry in order and inquired why Kenyans applying for 32 page passports were being told to upgrade to 52 pages. 

Kindiki is now expected to appear before the committee again to appraise it on the progress and table written responses.