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Contract to produce IDs renewed

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 19 – The Cabinet on Thursday moved to end the national Identity Cards crisis by approving the renewal of a contract for the production and issuance of two million IDs.

A statement from the Presidential Press Service said this was a stop-gap measure as the Ministry of State for Immigration and Registration of Persons prepares for the third generation identity card system.

The government stopped issuing new identity cards early last month after a row over a contract to print the third generation IDs.

There has been a slow production of the ID cards since 2005 when a contract for the production of the current cards lapsed, and the government has been renewing the contract in bits as it made efforts to transit to the third generation cards.

In March this year, Immigration and Registration of Persons Minister Otieno Kajwang\’ told Parliament  that this delay was occasioned by the complications regarding procurement processes brought about by the intended migration from the second generation to third generation ID cards.

He said the process of migrating to the third generation ID cards had been slowed down by court cases forcing his ministry to extend the contract of a French company that has been issuing materials used in making the cards since 1995.

At the same time, The Immigration and Registrations of Persons Minister has announced plans to raise the fees for replacing the National Identification cards to Sh300 shillings.

Mr Kajwang told Parliament that the move was aimed at encouraging Kenyans to the handle the essential document carefully. Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto however protested that a fee rise would put the document out of the reach of many Kenyans.

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"This is a callous decision by the ministry which has even failed to register and give Kenyans their IDs and yet an ID is a right, not a privilege!" said the vocal MP.

However, the minister explained that the amount was justified because the government had subsidised the total fee for producing the national document.

He said;"to produce just one ID costs about Sh1,000 and the Third Generation which we are going to, will cost almost Sh3,000.

"It is a precious document and we want Kenyans to keep it very safely but if you lose it and we ask you to pay a fraction of what it is worth to discourage you from losing I don\’t think that arbitrary and neither is it about poverty," Mr Kajwang added.

The ministry is further planning a pilot project in Kitui, Eastern Province where they will use schools as registration centres.

Mr Kajwang told Parliament that plans were at an advanced stage to launch the programme which will see the school heads and area provincial administrators act as registration agents but added that the government will retain the registrars.

The minister further said Kenyans should only pay Sh50 to acquire birth certificates saying one can be charged between Sh130 to Sh150 if they wish to make amendments to their names or late registrations.

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