The Kenyan government announced Thursday it will clear the backlog of passport applications within two weeks and extend a crackdown on suspected brokers and accomplices involved in a passport racket.
Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary Julius Bitok said the government is producing around 3,600 passports daily and has reduced the backlog from 100,000 to 45,000. He said the government ordered new printers and enough booklets for Kenyans and is implementing a public-private partnership to expedite the process.
“Going forward, applying and getting passports will take you a maximum of seven days. We believe it will be possible to get passports within three days. We are going to introduce express services to ensure that Kenyans get passports within the shortest time possible,” Bitok said.
He also said the government is determined to rid Nyayo House, headquarters of the Directorate of Immigration, of con men and middlemen suspected of working with immigration officers to extort bribes from passport and other service applicants.
“The crackdown that happened around Nyayo House will be extended to other cities and towns like Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret and many other places where there are complaints from Kenyans that they are not able to get services because there are people who are suspected to be abetting corruption,” Bitok said.
Last Friday, Directorate of Criminal Investigations officers arrested four men inside Nyayo House on suspicion of soliciting bribes. Officers confiscated the suspects’ phones seeking evidence to support prosecution for defrauding applicants.
He said Nyayo House hosts many other government offices and should be a place where Kenyans can expect to be served diligently without having to know anyone or part with bribes.
Bitok was speaking in Mombasa during a meeting on the National Assembly Committee on Delegated Legislation, which is responsible for ensuring statutory laws and regulations are in harmony with the Constitution and acts of Parliament.
The meeting was convened to discuss regulations to enforce the Refugees Act, which aims to help Kenya strike a balance between its humanitarian obligations to regional and international conventions on refugees and the country’s strategic interests.
The committee’s chairperson, Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkonga, said the new regulations were instrumental in anchoring the Shiite Plan, which proposes to move refugees from camps to integrated settlements.
“It’s very important how we handle refugees in this country because we are a very kind country and we are also very exposed,” Chepkonga said.
The meeting was also attended by the Commissioner for Refugee Affairs, John Burugu.