Kenyans to wait longer for passports over shortage of booklets


Immigration department says they are grappling with shortage of booklets and are in urgent need of Sh150 million to purchase booklets for printing passports.

Photo credit: File

Kenyans seeking passports will wait longer to get the critical travel document, with the Immigration department grappling with shortage of booklets.

Immigration and Citizen Services Director-General Alexander Muteshi said they are in urgent need of Sh150 million to purchase booklets for printing passports.

Appearing before the Senate National Security and Defence committee, Mr Muteshi said the department had requested the National Treasury to allocate them Sh300 million to digitise all its processes and services but only half of the amount has been disbursed.

This despite passport and visa issuance contributing significantly towards promotion of tourism and investment in the country, raking in about Sh500 million every month in revenue to the national government.

He said the directorate also generates additional revenue from the provision of consular services in missions abroad and from prosecution of immigration offences.

The DG decried that despite the department collecting about Sh12 billion annually in revenue, they are cash-starved and do not even have funds to buy new printers and pay its staff. “We are appealing to this committee to help push the National Treasury to release the funds so that critical service delivery can be offered,” said Mr Muteshi.

He further told the Baringo Senator William Cheptumo-led committee that the printers they currently use are old and obsolete, with a capacity of only 1,500 passports per day.

“If we buy new and modern printers, we will be able to reduce the backlog by printing 10,000 passports per day,” he said.

On the poor working conditions of its staff, the DG revealed that Immigration officials in missions abroad are at the verge of depression owing to non-payment of their dues.

He said the department has 41 officers working across Kenya’s 31 missions abroad and some of them are on the verge of being thrown out of their houses due to lack of pay as the Exchequer is yet to release funds.

“I received a call from the Ambassador that an officer in Tel Aviv-Israel was on Tuesday last week hospitalised because of depression due to delays in payment of salary,” he said.

Meanwhile, the directorate is planning to put up an integrated border management service, digitisation, facial recognition, e-gates, passenger name record (PNR) and advance passenger indexing (API) projects.

This is in line with the country’s plan to fully migrate to the use of the new East African Community biometric e-passport, doing away with the old generation passports.

The new e-passport contains the holder’s biodata and is aimed at enhancing efficiency and remove any security loopholes.

Mr Muteshi said once a new Immigration Services Principal Secretary is sworn in, they will move with speed to enact a Migration Policy aimed at streamlining the role of immigration in national security and development.

“The draft policy has been prepared awaiting submission to Interior Cabinet Secretary Prof Kithure Kindiki,” he said.