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MPs recommend three-day turnaround for passport applications

Parliament has recommended that Kenyans applying for passports receive the travel document within three days of submitting their application.

Through the National Assembly’s Committee on National Administration and Internal Security, MPs further urged the government to open more immigration offices across the country to make it easier to acquire passports.

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Currently, many applicants are forced to travel long and costly distances to access Nyayo House or any of the eight regional immigration offices.

Narok West MP Gabriel Tongoyo, who is also the chair of the Committee, stated that with adequate resources, targeting a maximum of three days for applicants to be issued passports is realistic, especially with the opening of more offices in other parts of the country.

Mandera East MP Hussein Abdirahman commended the government for introducing reforms that have improved the efficiency of the Directorate of Immigration, noting that the long queues at Nyayo House have disappeared.

The MPs spoke during the presentation of the State Department for Immigration and Citizen Services’ budget estimates for the 2024/25 Financial Year and supplementary estimates for FY 2023/24.

Immigration PS Julius Bitok revealed that the Department has been allocated Ksh 15.151 billion instead of the Ksh 15.873 billion requested in the Budget Policy Statement.

Of this amount, Ksh 10.145 billion will be spent on the recurrent budget, while Ksh 5.091 billion will be committed to development projects.

Under the second supplementary estimate for FY 2023/2024, the State Department’s revised budget was Ksh. 12.633 billion, with Ksh. 9.136 billion allocated to the recurrent budget.

Prof. Bitok reported that the Department had successfully cleared a backlog of around 700,000 passports and invested heavily in equipment and technology using funds obtained as Appropriation-in-Aid from Immigration and other services.

Reforms included creating two banking halls, buying two printers, and increasing personnel.

He also highlighted the digitization of over 16,000 government services on eCitizen, the introduction of a visa-free entry regime in January, and the Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) that has processed over 500,000 visitors to Kenya.

The PS appealed for more funding to roll out the newly introduced digital ID, the Maisha Card, and its supporting infrastructure, as well as the Shirika Plan, which proposes moving refugees out of camps by integrating them with host communities.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki and the PS have previously promised to introduce a seven-day maximum waiting time for passport applications.

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