Monday, May 27, 2024

Kenyans unable to get passports as old single printer breaks down, booklets run out

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In April 2023, the Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki announced that Kenyans who had been waiting for the processing of their passports at the Department of Immigration would receive them within three weeks.

At the time, there were over 60,000 Kenyans in the processing queue.

The Department of Immigration claimed that it “The production of 15,358, 10,045 and 37,810 A, B and C series passports respectively that have been queued due to booklets shortage will now be cleared,” Principal Secretary Julius Bitok had said.

“It will take you 21 days to receive your passport if you apply on the e-Citizen platform,” the PS said. received over 100,000 passport booklets for processing.

Over two months later, it has emerged that the backlogs have persisted and Kenyans seeking passports are not able to get them. The reasons cited include shortage of booklets and faulty printers that are breaking down regularly.

“All passports in Kenya are produced in Nairobi. The printing machine has broken down and there is nothing we can do,” a source at the Immigration Directorate told Bizna Kenya during a recent printer breakdown.

A backlog of payments to service providers has also been cited as the other contributing factor to the passport processing delays.

Prior to leaving the department, the former Immigration and Citizen Services Director-General Alexander Muteshi had revealed that the department has been in dire need of Sh. 150 million for the acquisition of new passport booklets for quite some time.

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Muteshi further said that despite the department collecting about Sh. 12 billion annually in revenue, it has remained starved without any monies coming in from the National treasury to help it run its operations smoothly. He lamented that currently, the department has no money to buy newer and more efficient printers or pay its workers.

 “We are appealing to this committee to help push the National Treasury to release the funds so that critical service delivery can be offered,” said Muteshi.

Muteshi further said that the printers currently used are old and obsolete. They have a capacity of only 1,500 passports per day.

“If we buy new and modern printers, we will be able to reduce the backlog by printing 10,000 passports per day,” he had said.

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