People waited in long queues at the immigration headquarters Wednesday as citizens scrambled to apply ahead of Thursday’s launch of electronic passports.
Services at the Nyayo House offices will be unavailable up to midday Thursday as the department prepares to roll out the electronic border passes.
Regional and border offices will however continue to operate as normal without any disruptions.
The department under the Interior and Coordination of National Government ministry has also been experiencing delays in the issuance of passports over the past few months.
They have attributed current queues and delays to the system upgrade that preceded Thursday’s launch of the new generation documents.
Kenyans have been waiting longer than the specified timelines to get new passports or renew their travel documents at Immigration Services as the department avoided issuing a large number of old generation passports.
“The delay has been due to the upgrade of the systems and a deliberate effort to reduce issuing of old passports. We will begin clearing the backlog after the launch,” said Ministry of Interior spokesperson Mwenda Njoka.
The ‘analogue’ travel documents will be rendered obsolete after two years. According to Mr Njoka, after the launch, there will be an expected increase in issuance of new passports and the delays will be sorted out.
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The department of immigration has been issuing passports on an urgency basis that has seen individuals wait for up to two months to secure the travel documents at Nyayo House and other regional offices.
The e-passports conform to international security standards that require all of them to contain a tamper-proof electronic chip that carries a holder’s information and travel history.
The smart passport will phase out the East African passport as well as individual passports issued to EAC bloc member states of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda to their citizens.
The processing duration remains the same, 10 working days; requirements are also not changing. The Immigration department will also install smart gates at Kenyan airports to facilitate faster clearance of travellers.