State agencies cut red tape with real time online service delivery

Businessman Peter Mbugua at the iTax Support Centre in Nakuru in October. Online services have eased service delivery. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH
Businessman Peter Mbugua at the iTax Support Centre in Nakuru in October. Online services have eased service delivery. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH 

State agencies are increasingly turning to the Internet, especially social media platforms, in efforts to boost efficiency in service delivery and engage with the public.

The National Construction Authority (NCA) has adopted use of social media platforms to monitor wayward building owners, following numerous cases of buildings collapsing in Nairobi resulting in loss of lives.

Using Twitter handle @ncakenya, Kenyans can raise concerns over structural defects of any building, environmental challenges caused by poor construction and effluent disposal from any buildings.

The building regulator immediately posts course of action and where necessary the NCA warnings are posted on such buildings and the whistleblower alerted.

Following the NCA way, the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) is using an NTSA App available on Google Play where Kenyans can snap and post pictures of errant motorist and defective vehicles for action.

The road safety agency, like the NCA says it would use GPS co-ordinates to launch prompt response with the alert sender receiving briefs of response action taken to avert disaster.

The new strategy encourages citizen participation in improving public service delivery.

A look at the NCA’s Twitter handle shows heightened public interest with users posting pictures of sinking buildings or those with cracks on their foundations, pillars and walls, which trigger a visit to the suspect site.

The NCA also responds to the public on its timeline and encourage Twitter as well as other social media users to post their queries on construction works, especially residential apartments springing up around Nairobi’s satellite towns.

“Stay away from unsafe buildings! Wote tutasherekea sikukuu.>MA, for detailed information concerning our daily updates, like our Facebook page,” reads an NCA tweet.

One of the public sector pioneers in efficient use of social media platforms to address customer concerns is Kenya Power, which allows for complaints, reports on power outage and illegal connections, among others to be made and followed up on Twitter and Facebook within 24 hours.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) recently sanctioned small taxpayers of Sh70,000 and below to pay via mobile money, reducing the need for them to queue at revenue offices to deliver bank deposit slips.

Kenyans now file tax returns online following the introduction of mandatory i-Tax platform, ending perpetual queues at KRA offices when individual taxpayers throng the facilities to beat the June 30 deadline.

State agencies as well as senior government officials, among them President Uhuru Kenyatta and deputy President William Ruto, also use the social media to engage and update the public on their official activities and policies.

Another yet to be celebrated major achievement is linking of all financial institutions’ information and technology networks to the National Registration Bureau database via the Integrated Population Registration System (IPRS) allowing access to an individual’s personal identity details.

This has reduced fraudulent claims through forged cheques, withdrawal slips, identity cards and signatures as tellers can view a person’s photograph and verify fingerprints in realtime on IPRS as a client waits.

The IPRS is also accessible to various security agencies and Immigration Department, among others via the Internet.

Motor vehicle owners and drivers now make all inquiries and applications to the NTSA online as well as have driving and motor vehicle licences renewed on the agency’s portal. The same is the case for anyone seeking to have a business name registered.

Unknown to many, civil marriages are also registered and solemnised online with certificates issued on the spot.

Birth and death certificate applications are also made on the Internet, helping speed up processes and curb human contact blamed in the past for corruption and delays.

Nyumba Kumi Steering Committee chairman Joseph Kaguthi urges Kenyans to use technology to fight injustices perpetrated by security apparatus.

“This is the best way to fight impunity for a just society. You now have a witness that no one can dispute.

“Even in demonstrations, use your phones to record happenings during confrontations with security agencies and immediately post happenings,” he says.

Tourists and business travellers entering Kenya now apply for Visas online and print out the approvals upon paying relevant fees. The travel documents are verified at point of entry into Kenya by immigration officials saving time and enhancing revenues.

The Immigration ministry has taken all the processes in the issuance or replacement of passport or an identity card online.

The process starts at the e-Citizen portal before one is invited to present their original documents at their officials upon which a tracking number is given enabling an applicant to follow progress via the immigration portal or short text service.

This has reduced paperwork, queues and time taken to acquire the documents.

The Land ministry is also completing the records’ digitisation process for 19 registries by the end of the year which will ease land search processes creating new revenue streams for the government as citizens pay a premium fee to access various services.