NAIROBI, July 16 – An acute shortage of material used to produce National Identity cards is causing acrimonious delays for applicants who are now forced to wait for more than six months to get new ones.
Majority of those affected are school leavers seeking Identity Cards to apply for University, college or tertiary education.
Others affected are young people seeking job opportunities in formal organizations where they can not get employment without national identity cards.
Those applying to replace lost or misplaced cards are also forced to wait for up to six months before they can be issued with new ones.
Capital News visited various administrative centers in Nairobi where applications are processed where some of the affected youth said they had even lost hope of ever getting the crucial document.
At the Kariokor District Officer’s office, we found more than 100 Kenyans who have held waiting cards since February.
"I applied for the Identity Card in January but I have never received it," said John Kabare.
21-year-old Kabare said he lost an opportunity to join a teachers training college in April because it was one of the mandatory requirements.
"I just hope it comes before September so that I don’t lose another opportunity because I am still determined to join a teaching college," he said.
Another applicant Jane Waithera, 20, said she had been visiting the Westlands District Officer’s office at least twice a week but was yet to receive the document.
"It is six months now since I applied for it," she said.
Procedurally, successful applicants are supposed to collect their National Identity Cards within 40 days from the day of application.
Director of National Registration Reuben Kimotho defended the department and denied reports the delay was a result of shortage in material.
"It is true we have cases where the cards have taken unnecessarily long to be produced but it has nothing to do with shortage in material," he said.
In an exclusive interview with Capital News in his office on Wednesday, Kimotho said the department was experiencing what he termed ‘technical and technological’ problems.
"These are issues we are addressing to improve our service delivery. We know the challenges Kenyans are undergoing," he said.
Asked why it had taken them up to six months to produce some of the Identification cards, he said; "There could be problems in the applications reaching us or it could be something to do with their finger prints."
In some cases, he said, applications are returned to the centres of origin whenever accompanying documents are found to be faulty or lacking proper signatures.
A source at the National Registration Bureau told Capital News that the government was faced with an acute shortage of material that is used to produce the Identity Cards.
This has slowed down the process to the production of 15,000 cards per week, down from the usual 40,000.
"There is a problem because we are not able to process all the applications in time. We are not able to meet our targets or processing 40,000 IDs per week," the source said.
According to Kimotho, the department has the capacity to process up to 2 million applications annually.
However, he says, the number of cards they produce varies from time to time because it is determined by the number of applications received.
We independently established that the post election violence is partly to blame for a backlog of applications, mainly in the Rift Valley.
"Majority of applications forwarded from the province and some parts of Nairobi lack some valid accompanying documents," our source said.
There are cases where new applicants are applying for Identity Cards without attaching relevant documents like photocopies of their parents.
Nearly 350,000 people were displaced during the post-election violence.
There are those whose houses were either burnt or vandalised and may have lost many of their vital documents.