Kenyans looking for passports are set to wait for much longer after one of the printers broke down at Nyayo House in Nairobi and the government is yet to repair it more than two months down the line, in what promises another painful month for those seeking to travel.
Officials at the immigration department told the Business Daily that one of the machines that prints the 34, 50 and 66-page booklets broke down in March, inconveniencing applicants who had applied for the travel documents.
A small machine that prints the 34-page passport is however working though at an optimal capacity.
Printing of the 66-page and 50-page passports, the sources said has also been hampered in the last few months due to a shortage of booklets.
The booklets were however sourced by the Immigration Department last Friday.
The category C passport with 66 pages, is costing one Sh7,550.To get a 34-page document which falls under category A, one pays Sh4,550 while the category 50-page document costs Sh6,050.
“It’s true there is a problem with passport issuance at Nyayo House in Nairobi. We need to invest in modern printers to sort out the problem,” said one of the sources at the Immigration Department on condition of anonymity.
“Unless we upgrade the printers, we will still suffer in terms of backlog in the coming days.” The immigration department did not respond to Business Daily's inquiries on why it has taken too long to fix the printer.
The source said that Immigration Department normally prints 1,500 passports per day which does not match the existing demand bearing in mind the number of travellers leaving the country at one given time has been going up in the recent few months.
The demand, the source said, is so high because they usually receive new applications daily. The department, he said is grappling with a backlog of 300,000 passports that are yet to be printed to date.
The government, he said, therefore, needs to invest in modern printers that can allow faster processing of the travel documents.
The Immigration Department did not respond officially to our queries by the time this story was going to press despite sending them numerous reminders to do so.
However, a press statement released by the State Department of Immigration last week Friday said those in urgent need of passports should contact the department and provide documentary proof of urgency.
“Therefore, for urgent passport processing, kindly contact the Immigration Department and provide documentary proof of urgency,” read the statement from the State Department for Interior and Citizen Services.
The breakdown comes barely a month after Kenya received a consignment of more than 100,000 passport booklets, which was expected to ease delays witnessed in the last few months.
Immigration Principal Secretary Julius Bitok said the passports were ordered from abroad early this year.
With the new consignment, Bitok assured Kenyans last month that henceforth, the process of issuance will be faster, more efficient and urged Kenyans to apply for the travel document.
“As you have been aware there have been delays in the issuance of passports because our stocks were very low but today am happy to announce that from now on, the process of issuance of passports will be faster and more efficient and I urge all Kenyans who have applied for their passports to come and pick them since they will be printed in time,” Mr Bitok said then.
The number of passports processed and issued increased by 55.9 percent to 426, 137 in 2022 as the state moved in to lift restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus, promoting travel across borders.