When President William Ruto announced the streamlining of payments for government services through a single paybill, the decision was well-received. Discontinuing all the others and embracing only Paybill 222222 was seen as a solution to the rampant corruption and mismanagement of finances in the public sector. That was in June last year, but to date that dream remains elusive.
The presidential directive has not ended the hiccups in the processing of payments through the e-Citizen platform. They are, in fact, becoming even more common, with key areas, including health services, adversely affected. Payments through the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), among other services, are supposed to happen easily but are instead causing major headaches.
As result of the payments hitch, for instance, about 1,000 cancer patients have been unable to get their medication for the past five months because the importer's dues have not been cleared.
As part of the plan to set up a one-stop shop for the payment of all public services, the State last year issued the single paybill number. But it has had issues. Indeed, critics claim that before the online-based system, it was easier to make such payments.
There is frustration and anger across the country about the people’s harrowing experiences with the new method of paying for government services. Affected are the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), and even the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).
The NTSA faces challenges with the issuance of smart Diving licences, motor vehicle inspections and processing of number plates. However, it is not all gloom. In some places, services now work efficiently even in deep rural areas such as Taita-Taveta County. The e-Citizen portal has made it easier for tourists to pay fees for national parks and reserves.
The new system was meant to ease the provision of public services by ensuring that people get them conveniently using mobile phones, and avoiding bureaucracy. The portal caters for 19,000 public services through a single account. This way, millions of Kenyans can easily get the services they need. The weaknesses must be sorted out.