Matiang’i raids births register office in crackdown on cartels

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i at the the Department of Civil Registration during an impromptu visit on October 25, 2019. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Dr Matiang’i ordered the immediate arrest of brokers behind the multi-million shilling corruption industry at Bishop’s House, where the department is based.
  • He assured Kenyans that the process of getting a birth certificate in Kenya will be corruption-free and much smoother by next week.
  • Changes to be effected at the weekend include having the Prisons Department repair existing and broken furniture as well as building extra storage spaces for old receipts and documents.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i on Friday sent packing two senior officers at the Department of Civil Registration in an impromptu raid meant to crack down on corruption cartels in the issuance of birth certificates.

Dr Matiang’i also ordered the immediate arrest of brokers behind the multi-million shilling corruption industry at Bishop’s House, where the department is based.

He assured Kenyans that the process of getting a birth certificate in Kenya will be corruption-free and much smoother by next week.

CAUGHT UNAWARES

Dr Matiang’i’s visit caught the department’s bosses unawares and he found long queues, unmanned and unmarked counters as well as computers in disuse.

The situation prompted him to direct all personnel in charge to work over the weekend to ensure smoother processes by Monday.

“People should be coming in and immediately they should have someone verify that all their documents are in order," CS Matiang’i said during the inspection.

"After that, they should hand in their documents, get a ticket and go home. After about a week, they should get a SMS telling them that their certificate is ready to be collected."

He ordered that by Monday, the reception area should have seats for people with enquiries and all counters should be adequately labelled so that all customers will know the functions of every counter in order to prevent confusion.

"Every employee of this place will have a badge with their name and their position here by Monday. I do not know how you will do it, but it has to be done. If anyone comes here purporting to work here with no identification, they will be arrested,” CS Matiang’i directed.

He said that the badges would help customers identify genuine workers.

MORE CHANGES

More changes to be effected at the weekend include having the Prisons Department repair existing and broken furniture as well as building extra storage spaces for old receipts and documents at the offices.

“People must find a different office when they come here on Monday morning. The aim is to reduce the waiting time to nil. The waiting gives opportunities for people to ask for bribes,” Dr Matiang’i said.

The CS revealed that some unscrupulous government employees had deliberately made the system inefficient in order to frustrate Kenyans seeking the important document. In their frustration and desperation, citizens are more likely to agree to “buy lunch” for an employee to get their documents fast tracked.

“We had heard of situations where people come and pay the watchmen at the entrance money to have their birth certificates processed faster. That is nonsense. I am very sorry for the situation that we have had in the past, but I assure you, from now on things will be different.

"By Thursday next week, you will all have your birth certificates ready,” he said amidst applause from the crowd of people registering for the document.

He ordered a cyber café operating in a tent outside the premises closed, insisting that it was an avenue for corrupt individuals to operate.

COMPLAINTS

Dr Matiang’i came in full force in a bid to clean up the birth registration office following years of complaints of corruption, inefficiency and frustration that was synonymous with getting a birth certificate.

He even mentioned speaking to a mother who had waited six months for her document to be released after registration at a Huduma centre in the CBD.

The situation only became worse following the introduction of the National Education Management Information System (Nemis), which requires all pupils and students to be registered under the ministry of Education through their birth certificates.

This caused a sharp increase in the demand for birth certificates, which shady civil registration employees took advantage of.

BROKERS

Prices for the speedy processing of the important document range between Sh1,000 and Sh5,000, depending on the urgency, the Nation found out.

It was revealed that in the long, winding queues, ‘brokers’ usually watch out to identify targets willing to part with money to fast-track the process.

Others usually look out for people who had been told at the counters to wait longer for the documents or who had been advised to start the process afresh as their batch of documents was not properly registered, or some other tall tale.

The brokers then approach the person and explain that for a fee, they could help expedite the process. After agreeing on the price and after payment, the broker goes with the documents and, depending on their connections, produce the birth certificate within a fraction of the time the normal process would take.

TRIAL RUN

Among expected next week in an increase in the number of NYS officers working on the backlog, a new seating arrangement to enhance workers' productivity and better organisation of the entire office.

“If we managed to sort out the Immigrations office, which had exactly the same problem, even this one will improve,” the CS said.

A trial run of the new look office will be done on Sunday afternoon while CS Matiang’i will personally supervise the opening of the facility on Monday morning.

Dr Matiang’i carried out the inspection accompanied by Zeinab Hussein, the Principal Secretary for Correctional Services and Wycliffe Ogalo, Kenya Prisons Service Commissioner-General.

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