The Postal Corporation of Kenya (PCK) has threatened to evict Huduma centres over Sh1.7 billion rent arrears in what could put sensitive data at risk.
The Public Service ministry told Parliament that some of the Huduma Centres are on the verge of closure due to rental demands by PCK.
In 2013, the government launched the Huduma Centres to enhance efficiency in public service delivery by decentralising key services such as the application and issuance of national identity cards and birth certificates.
PCK hosts nearly half of the Huduma centres across the country but the Ministry of Public Service has been slow in paying it for the space.
Some of the Huduma Centres housed by PCK include Nairobi (GPO), Kakamega, Nakuru, Meru, Mombasa, Machakos, Kisii, Bungoma, Marsabit and Isiolo.
“Posta is demanding Sh1.7 billion in rent arrears that have accumulated for hosting the Huduma Centres," Ms Mary Kimonye, the Public Service Principal Secretary told the Administration and Security committee during the scrutiny of the 2022/23 budget policy statement (BPS).
“Some of the Huduma Centres are now being evicted and government data risks being compromised,” she said.
Huduma Centres are one-stop shops that offer a wide range of government services including certificates of good conduct, driving license, assessment of stamp duty and franking of documents.
“PCK is licensing kiosks in their premises around the Huduma Centres hence posing a huge threat of compromising crucial government data.” the PS said.
Ms Kimonye wants Parliament to allocate additional funds in the coming budget to enable the ministry to acquire the PCK premises or secure alternative premises in government-owned facilities.
She told the committee chaired by Limuru MP Peter Mwathi that the ministry has a Sh12 billion budget deficit for public service transformation.
“We are sensitive to the fiscal constraints, but we need to enhance the Huduma program,” she said.
She told MPs that the ministry plans to establish 10 more Huduma Centres in the financial year starting July 1.
“Some of the Huduma Centres are very small like Embu and there is a need to acquire a bigger space,” she said.
The delay by the State to pay PCK for hosting the Centres has added to the financial woes of the entity that is struggling to turn around its dwindling fortunes.
The State agency last year sought Sh1 billion from the Treasury to keep it afloat.
PCK had told Parliament that the Sh1 billion allocation will go towards meeting the corporations’ universal service obligation to Kenyans by ensuring the branches remain open.
The State corporation operates a vast network that currently stands at 623 post offices and partners with about 5,000 stamp vendor licensees across the country.