Ombudsman probe unearths hitches in passport application processes

    A new report by the Commission on Administrative Justice, otherwise known popularly as “the Ombudsman”, has exposed numerous cases of maladministration at the Department of Immigration in the application of passports.

    In the report released Tuesday Morning, the ombudsman disclosed that after investigations prompted by complaints raised by Kenyans, the Department was found to have, for instance, overcharged a number of citizens to process their travel documents.

    Channel 1

    “All nine complaints alleging overcharge of passport fees were found to be true while the allegation by the Department of Immigration that the complainants edited their application to a lower series was found to be false,” said the report

    According to the probe, some of the applicants paid for a “B” series passport of 50 pages but were instead issued with ‘A’ series passports of 34 pages.

    “It was confirmed that indeed the seven complainants applied for “B” series passports which was the only available option then and paid KSh 6,050 but were issued with “A” series passports,” noted the commission.

    The commission attributes the delays in the processing of passports and the unavailability of a particular passport series on the e-citizen platform to; “delays in the approval of the procurement of blank passport booklets, and, the continuous breakdown of printing machines at the Department of Immigration,”

    It also emerged that due to constrained resources, the department lacked a series of customer redress mechanisms made worse by bureaucratic procurement procedures.

    The e-citizen system was found to have eased and improved the efficiency of the passport application and payment processes but needs an upgrade to deal with emerging trends.

    The commission’s chairperson Florence Kajuju now wants the Ministry of Interior to increase budgetary allocation to the Department of Immigration for the purchase of new high-capacity passport printing machines, service of the old passport printing machines, and provision of sufficient working tools.

    Kajuju says her commission’s investigations further revealed that the Department of Immigration lacks an internal policy or a procedure guiding and regulating issues that may arise out of passport processing such as editing and cancellation of applications and also lacks a mechanism to automatically refund excess payments.

    The CAJ chairperson has called on Kenyans to volunteer information regarding alleged corrupt practices at the Department of Immigration if it is to take concrete steps in aiding the Ministry of Interior to eliminate complaints related to passport issuances.

    Kajuju says the lack of testimonials by complainants was to blame for inaction on corruption allegations at the passport issuance desk.

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