, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 26 – The Ministry of Immigration announced on Friday that it would engage in a crash program to issue National Identity cards to enable eligible Kenyans register as voters.
Minister Otieno Kajwang said his officers would go beyond the District headquarters and get deeper into the grassroots in a bid to reach close to two million eligible Kenyans.
“We will be moving to schools, chief centres and markets to register as many people as we can,” he said adding that the Ministry was well capable to process over 60,000 identity cards daily.
Mr Kajwang however reported that despite the capacity most of the registration centres have remained empty and urged those who have attained the age of 18 years to report to the centres to register.
“We have the necessary materials, cameras, films and forms. Our production capacity is large enough.”
While officiating the start of the fresh voter registration on Monday, President Mwai Kibaki ordered the Ministry to hasten the process of issuing the IDs to enable all citizens register within the 45 days period. Anyone wishing to register as a voter must have a National Identity card.
Mr Kajwang said he had requested Treasury to top up his Ministry’s budget by Sh200 million to enable them cater for extra costs of getting into the grassroots.
“We would love to get the money as fast as possible so that we can beat the deadline. If it’s put under the supplementary budget we could be delayed,” he emphasised.
In North Eastern Province where the process had numerous delays due to the threat of illegal immigrants, Mr Kajwang said he had instructed the officers on the ground to hasten it. The Minister said the elders who help in identifying natives shall now be holding meetings daily, and not monthly.
“We used to have problems with their allowances but now this has been sorted,” he said.
The Minister said that the Ministry issues about 1.5 million Identity cards every year. He added that they also replace another 500,000 lost identity cards annually.
Mr Kajwang said the Ministry was planning to introduce fees for replacing lost IDs.
“Kenyans are losing their IDs so casually. You don’t see many replacements of passports probably because of the cost,” he said.
The Interim Independent Electoral Commission started 45 day registration last Monday but there have been complaints.