Kenyans will Tuesday cross into the new year without “Huduma Namba” cards, nine months after the launch of 45-day biometric registration on March 18 at Sh6 billion.
The much hyped wonder digital chips were supposed to come out in 90 days, displaying information like bio data, citizenship, family tree, marital and employment status.
The uncertainty about whether the cards will eventually be issued and put to use, is set to stretch into the early days 2020 as officials said the final decision rests with the courts.
Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho told Business Daily the government had opted to halt rollout of the National Integrated Identity Management System (Niims) until the High court gives a direction on the matter on January 20.
“We can’t proceed due to an order from the court that restrained us from further process. Ruling is January 2020,” said Mr Kibicho in reference to the challenge facing the State on the rollout.
The Huduma card, which was to be compulsory, was meant to eliminate multiple cards and documents that individuals carry, including national IDs, passports, driving licence as well as NHIF and NSSF cards.
The Nubian Rights Forum in February moved to court to challenge the implementation of Niims.
The group sued Attorney-General and Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i over the disputed platform aimed at digitising and centralising records of citizens and foreigners.
The group argued that queries were pending on the legal amendments that saw the creation of Niims, adding, there are no provisions on how the data will be collected.
The forum claimed that using the new platform in marginalised areas will be difficult and unfair.
“Since the sued parties have failed to address the problems faced under the simpler registration system, introducing the more complex one will leave people from marginalised areas unable to complete registration, rendering them unable to benefit from any public services,” the lobby's lawyer, Yussuf Bashir, said.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission had also sued the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Attorney-General, the Interior and ICT Cabinet Secretaries, and the Kenya Law Reform over the number.
Critics read malice in the entire Huduma Namba project and have been accusing the government of giving Kenyans half-truths on the true intentions of the project.
They also accused the Interior ministry of launching the registration before changing the law to support it.