Interior CS Kithure Kindiki vows crackdown on Nyayo House passport ‘cartels’

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki during a visit at Nyayo House Immigration Department on September 1, 2023, following public outcry over delays in passport application process.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Passport-seekers with deep pockets get the document without much hustle through a connected group.
  • Prof Kindiki now says that immigration officials involved in corrupt practices will be dismissed.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki yesterday took responsibility for the inordinate delays in passport issuing, as he announced a new crackdown on “cartels” at Nyayo House.

Prof Kindiki said the latest approach to resolve the issue involves a commitment by the government to settle dues owed to suppliers.

“Many years of low investment in the passport production infrastructure, piling supplier debts, and corrupt practices continue to undermine the programme initiated to transform the State Department for Immigration and Citizen services last year,” he said.

“Kenyans continue to experience pain and frustration as they seek passports to facilitate their travel.”

Prof Kindiki, who this week reportedly gave the department three months to resolve the problem, termed the prevailing circumstances as “inexcusable”.

He added that Kenyans have a right to acquire citizenship and travel documents.

Kindiki makes surprise visit to Nyayo House

“As the Cabinet Secretary on whose role issuing of passports falls, I take responsibility for the slow pace of reforms and the prevailing systemic inefficiencies,” the CS said.

The remarks came after he held a meeting with his National Treasury colleague Njuguna Ndung’u on the challenges facing the Immigration Department and how they can be addressed.

Part of his early morning meeting with Prof Njuguna was to deliberate on financing Immigration and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) operations and to deal with the challenges on issuing passports and certificates of good conduct.

According to the minister, government officials engaging in corrupt practices will be dismissed.

“Beginning this morning, a crackdown has commenced to identify corrupt officials. Those found culpable will be removed from the service and held personally accountable. They will be prosecuted and surcharged,” he said.

The announcement by the CS comes after public outcry over the delay in issuing passports by the government.

An exposé dubbed “Broken System” by the Nation detailed the many challenges Kenyans go through when obtaining the crucial travel document at Nyayo House, Nairobi.

Long queues are a norm rather than an exception.

Government officials have taken advantage of the breakdown in services to solicit for bribes.

Passport-seekers with deep pockets get the document quickly without much hustle through a connected group that operates through the “VIP” application channel.

The VIP Application Centre at Nyayo House is reserved for senior government officials and their families.

During the investigation, the Nation witnessed long queues of non-VIP applicants being ushered discreetly into the office, where they were received by aides of top Immigration officials. The applicants often received their passports in a day after parting with huge amounts.

The cartel starts from brokers who hang around the ground floor of the building.

These hordes have established strong networks with Immigration officials and clerks.

They act as conveyor belts by soliciting, receiving and delivering bribes. They then ensure the passports are prioritised for printing and delivery.

Last year, Prof Kindiki made more than five visits to Nyayo House with the aim of cracking down on corrupt officials and hastening the issuing passports.

After his visits, the DCI arrested four people on suspicion of facilitating corruption.