The National Treasury has set aside Sh1.3 billion for the Immigration Department to enable it upgrade its equipment and therefore improve service delivery.
At the same time, the boda boda riders and people who idle around Nyayo House, Immigration’s headquarters, will no longer be allowed in the area, with administration police ordered to clear all crowds in the vicinity.
These were some of the pronouncements made by Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki during his visit at the Immigration headquarters Thursday evening.
Prof Kindiki said the aim of his visit was to encourage staff to work hard even as the State seeks ways of improving their equipment and refurbishing the premises, and to warn officers who have tarnished the department by making it a den for criminals who frustrate Kenyans seeking passports.
The CS said that more intelligence had been gathered on how a bribery racket in the Immigration operates and more arrests of those involved will be made soon.
Last Friday, the Directorate of Criminal Investiogations sleuths officers arrested four suspected bribes brokers linked to a passports racket at Nyayo House.
“Gone are the days when some Sh2,000, Sh5,000 or Sh10,000 issued illegally will be the basis of persons being given priority in this building. We will ensure this place is cleaned of the few corrupt individuals spoiling the name of many dedicated security and Immigration officers working here,” he said.
Prof Kindiki said that Immigration has for a long time been sidelined financially, which that has seen most of its equipment, including the passport printers, break down frequently.
However, with the anticipated allocation, the CS said the department will have the much-needed resources to equip itself properly.
“We are also working out a way where some of the revenue collected from the services offered here and not all will be wired to the Treasury, some portion is retained to improve the operations here,” he said.
Earlier, Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary Julius Bitok acknowledged that Nyayo House has been compromised by corrupt activities.
Speaking during a meeting with the National Assembly’s Committee on Delegated Legislation in Mombasa, the PS said the passport brokers crackdown has been devolved and is targeting Immigration’s regional offices.
Prof Bitok assured Kenyans that the passports backlog will be cleared in two weeks.
“The backlog, which we had at 100,000 passports, has been reduced to around 44,000. In the next two weeks, there will be no backlog of passports in Nyayo House. There is a lot which is going on with all arms of government including the Legislature and Executive to ensure there is a proper clean-up at Nyayo House,” he said.
The PS added that going forward, the application and issuance of a passport will take a maximum of seven days.