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Urgent passports: Was Immigration Department’s statement a response to online petition?

On Thursday, the Kenyan Immigration Services announced that it remained committed to serving Kenyans and that they remain open to facilitate the urgent processing of passports as part of its mandate.

The department, which is part of the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, also provided some hotline numbers and email addresses through which Kenyans can reach them, as well as which counters to access at Nyayo House passport section.

“Therefore, for urgent passport processing, kindly contact the Immigration Department and provide documentary proof of urgency,” read the statement from the State Department for Interior and Citizen Services.

The publication of this statement was met mixed reactions as some people said the hotline contact information was welcome as Immigration staff often ask for hefty bribes to process passports before the stipulated 14 days are up while others claimed that this would just be another streamlined avenue for the staff to make more money.

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In another instance, some raised questions as to the timing of the publication of the statement from the Immigration Services considering there is a petition making rounds online in Kenya, calling on Kenyans to demand better services from the Ministry involved and especially the Directorate of Immigrations’ Passport Section.

“Kenyans have for the past couple of years faced challenges in being issued with passports by the Kenyan government. There have been many claims of alleged corruption at the Directorate of Immigration Services and in particular the Passport Section. Those who are able to “oil” hands seemingly have their passports expedited,” the petition started by Amakove Wala reads in part.

“The Department of Immigration has maintained that for the past two years the machine has been inoperative. This has been coupled with the claim that suppliers have not been paid. Despite that, if you have money, surprisingly the machine jumps back to work and suppliers provide the necessary stationery. Many have lost work, school and social opportunities to travel because of this delay.

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“We are calling on the CS Prof. Kithure Kindiki Ministry of Interior and National Administration to reprioritize the matter. A passport is a legal document that is a right to a Kenyan national. Delays in issuance of passports is not only denying them their rights but also affecting the economy of the country by hampering free movement of citizens and trade,” the petition further reads.

The petition went on to issue their demands to the Ministry. They demanded that the Immigration Director General ensures that the Department of Immigration and Citizen Services clear the backlog of approximately 60,000 pending passport applications and that the Director General ensures that passports are processed and issued within the stipulated days.

The petition, which was placed two days ago, has so far been signed by 2,846 of the targeted 5,000 people.

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