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End agony over passports

Tuesday June 25 2019

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Just like the recent chaotic Huduma Namba registration, the scramble for the new digital passports has brought out the worst in Kenyans.

Many tend to leave everything till the eleventh hour, only to get engulfed in the last-minute rush madness.

The apparent panic over the August 31 deadline for the acquisition of e-passports is what is fuelling the long queues at the Immigration Department headquarters at Nyayo House, Nairobi, and other centres in the country.


One would imagine that Kenya is drawing to a standstill unless we all acquires the e-passport.

While it is true that many countries are now issuing visas to only those with a digital passport, it does not make sense for even those who have no immediate travel plans to congest the Immigration offices seeking the document. But again, Immigration cannot escape criticism for not properly handling this issue.


Immigration Director-General Alex Muteshi has belatedly blamed the long queues on the false notion that the government will stop issuing passports on August 31. This deadline, he explains, is only for the validity of the old passports. There is no deadline for applying for the travel document; so, there is no need for the mounting frustration.


Indeed, the changeover to the e-passport has not just happened overnight. It has been ongoing. In fact, the phasing out the old Kenyan passports began in 2017. And Kenyans now have some 70 days to acquire the e-passports. However, with more government services getting digitalised, and available online, it is a shame that people still have to go through the agony of queuing for many hours to get certain services.

The various departments must seek to enhance efficiency to ease the delivery of services.