Kenyans seeking services at Huduma Centres in some parts of the country were turned away on Thursday away after contractors pulled their services following non-payment of internet bills by the government.
Many of those who queued at the General Post Office Branch in Nairobi went away a frustrated lot, with the guards explaining that many services are unavailable because “the systems are down”.
A guard at the facility told Nation that only post office and Kenya Accountants Secretaries National Examination Board (Kasneb) services are being offered at the centre. He however offered no explanations regarding why the rest of the services are unavailable, and simply instructed the queuing customers to “come back tomorrow”.
Huduma’s website was also down on Thursday afternoon, pointing to a larger outage that could potentially affect thousands across the country.
Cabinet Secretary for Public Service Prof Margaret Kobia under whose docket Huduma Centres fall confirmed the outage but has assured Kenyans that services will be restored as soon as possible, possibly by the end of the day.
“What is unavailable is ICT services which are offered by Safaricom #ticker:SCOM and Telkom Kenya who halted their services because we are yet to pay outstanding bills of around Sh85 million from the previous financial year,” she said.
She explained that the bills had been overlooked as the government had closed its books on June 30 and opened new ones for 2018/2019, hence prompting a delay in settling last year’s bills.
The bills are paid on a quarterly basis.
“We are however working with the service providers to ensure that these bills are settled and full services restored to Huduma as soon as possible,” she said.
In Nyeri, services were partially offered at Huduma Centres. Clients could not get services beyond those that required filling of documents and verbal enquiries such as application of birth certificates and police abstracts.
Other services not affected included application for national identity cards.
An officer who spoke to Nation said the Nyeri Huduma Centre has not had internet connection since Wednesday.
Last year services at Huduma were once again suspended due to a power outage as the government had once again delayed payment of power bills.
Additional reporting Joseph Wangui