Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary (PS) Prof Julius Bitok on Tuesday, March 21, announced that the waiting time for ID card applications in five counties in Nothern Kenya was cut to 21 days.
Bitok made the announcement following calls by leaders from the region to have the time revised, claiming that it amounted to discrimination.
The PS added that the vetting process that applicants were subjected to would be done away with.
"We are determined to honour the President’s commitment to ensure all Kenyans are treated fairly and have equal access to Government’s services. We will ensure IDs are delivered within 21 days, ” Bitok remarked.
Saku Member of Parliament Ali Dido noted that the vetting requirement forced citizens to incur travel costs to obtain birth certificates, IDs and passports.
Dido further called on the Ministry of Interior to hire locals from the region to decentralize the Citizen Services offices to promote confidence in the registration process while also promoting inclusivity in public service.
He argued that the locals were more conversant with the livelihoods of the people who are predominantly pastoralists. He also explained that elders at location and sub-location will speed up the identification process.
In response, the PS noted that the government will rely on chiefs and their assistants, other National Government Administration Officers (NGAOs) and religious leaders to ensure processed IDs were delivered on time.
The Chairperson of the President's Council on Economic Affairs David Ndii, who was present at the meeting, stated that the vetting process was counterproductive and left marginalised communities susceptible to radicalisation
“It is our responsibility as the government to end it by removing barriers and inconveniences brought about by country borders and in place of it bring about equality in government services and resource distribution,” Ndii stated.
Bitok reiterated that the introduction of the Unique Personal Identifier (UPI) would eliminate the need for future vetting for IDs. However, at the moment it is in place to provide a balance amid security concerns related to Kenya's porous borders.
The vetting process is often required for applicants whose parents live in border counties. In Northern Kenya, it was introduced in all counties following the Shifta insurgency of the 1960s.