The State department for immigration and citizen services is set to receive an extra Sh70 million in the upcoming budget for the purchase of high-capacity passport printers following booklet delivery backlogs on account of faulty machines.
The Budget and Appropriations Committee has recommended the allocation following its observation that the department could not cope with the high demand for passports by Kenyans.
The allocation is, nevertheless, shy of Sh200 million, which is estimated as the requirement for the purchase of modern printers.
“The State department for immigration and citizen services could not cope with the number of Kenyans seeking passports to travel abroad for other economic opportunities on account of inadequate capacity of the current printer, which prints only 900 passports compared to a daily demand of 5,000 applicants,” the budget and appropriations committee noted in its report on the consideration of estimates of revenue and expenditure for the fiscal year starting July 1.
Kenyans seeking passports have been forced to wait for the key travel documents longer after the breakdown of one of the printers at Nyayo House in March, and which was yet to be repaired as at the end of last month.
Passport printing has been limited to a smaller machine with a lower output, escalating the backlog.
Sources at the Immigration Department had indicated to the Business Daily earlier that the solution to the backlog would be through the acquisition of new printers.
“It is true there is a problem with passport issuance at Nyayo House. We need to invest in modern printers to sort out the problem. Unless we upgrade the printers, we will still suffer in terms of backlog in the coming days,” a source at the State department said on condition of anonymity.
Last week, the Interior Ministry said new applicants for passports will receive the travel documents within a week following reforms to the immigration department including the fixing of the faulty printer.
Persons requiring passports on an emergency basis will meanwhile obtain their travel documents within 48 hours. Presently, the immigration department estimates the backlog of passports at 42,000.
“I want to plead for patience as we fix the broken printer in the next seven days. We will make sure once the printer is fixed, all new passport applications will be received in seven working days,” Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki said on Wednesday last week.