The government will start publishing the names of Kenyans whose passports are due for collection every Wednesday in a move it hopes will reduce the passport backlog.
From next week, applicants will be able to collect their passports, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki said, as the government has streamlined passport issuance.
Under the ambitious plan, dubbed the Rapid Results Initiative (RRI), applicants will be given specific days to collect the travel documents. At the end of the allotted time, those whose passports are not collected will be fined, said CS Kindiki.
"Persons who fail to pick their documents within the stipulated period and at the expiry of the due notice will have their passports disposed in accordance with the law and penalised when making a future application," Prof Kindiki said.
The decision was necessitated by the delay in the collection of passports by applicants, the CS explained.
Speaking at Nyayo House on Tuesday, Prof Kindiki said about 87,574 passports were lying uncollected at immigration offices.
A total of 36,170 passports are in Nairobi, 10,409 in Embu, 9,938 in Eldoret, 8,023 in Nakuru and 7,971 in Kisii.
"These must be collected within 30 days," he said, calling on "all people whose passports are ready to collect them".
The government is also investing in "better customer service" to ensure that immigration services are efficient.
"We have decided to employ more customer service officers. We're going to improve the speed. And in the future, nobody should spend more than half an hour looking for what they are looking for here," CS Kindiki said.
While the Immigration Department is not in a position to carry out an audit, CS Kindiki said he was confident that the historical backlog had been technically addressed.
"...the backlog, which was growing, was cleared. In the process of eliminating that backlog, we discovered that we had a delivery problem. We discovered that we were producing more passports than we could deliver," CS Kindiki said.
In May, CS Kindiki admitted that he was aware of the public outcry about the slow pace and inefficiencies in the issuance of passports.
At the heart of the problem, he said, was many years of disinvestment, from resources to finances. The printer had broken down, slowing down the production of passports, and corruption had crept into the system, slowing down service delivery.
CS Kindiki has since made a number of policy changes to rid Nyayo House of cartels that were hampering service delivery, including banning cars from standing around Nyayo House. He also banned idlers from loitering around the premises.
"I said we're going to clean this place up. So I can report that the historical backlog that has accumulated over the years for various reasons has been cleared," he said.