Kenyans are known for their love for shortcuts. This is a true reflection following the rising cases of fraud in the country.
The e-passport application process, which has already been automated by the Ministry of Interior's Department of Immigration, has been turned into a cash cow by shrewd fraudsters and brokers, who act as intermediaries between the applicants and the passport control office.
On Thursday, September 30, the Director of Immigration Services, Alexander Muteshi, issued a statement cautioning Kenyans against engaging the services of brokers in their application of e-passports.
“The public is strongly advised to avoid engaging brokers who use unorthodox means to attempt to bypass the e-citizen appointment system. We have in place measures to detect these attempts, and no service will be rendered to such cases,” read Muteshi's statement in part.
The brokers and intermediaries are allegedly recruited by some rogue immigration officials who then help them beat the system, especially on the two-week waiting period when passports are under processing.
According to reports, the immigration officials create an artificial gridlock with an aim of delaying the process, forcing many applicants to wait for more than six months, but the process is hurried upon payment of a bribe.
Most of the brokers pitch camp outside the immigration offices located at Nyayo House and areas around Teleposta Towers where they lure unwary applicants.
In an expose by a local media house, a victim narrated how he was approached by a broker who promised to help him with fast-tracking his application on condition that he paid a fee of Ksh2,500, an amount more than half the cost of an ordinary passport.
The amount is then distributed among various officials with the contact at the Immigration desk receiving Ksh1,000, the Dispatch Department another Ksh1,000 and the delivery person Ksh500.
“I had to pay Ksh3,000 to a woman on the first floor to have her release my passport after months of visiting those offices. I don't know where I can report this but given a chance, I would testify against her,” the victim who sought anonymity told the press.
To her amusement, the passport that had taken more than two months was produced after just three hours after engaging the services of the broker.
However, still remain on how these brokers are able to beat a system that Nyayo House says has the capability to detect any unauthorised activities.
Owing to the rising number of complaints, the immigration department now has established a desk to cater for applicants with urgent travel needs.