, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 17 – Police were on Monday morning forced to disperse hundreds of people who disrupted proceedings at the Starehe District headquarters as they stormed the offices to collect their identity cards.
Those who turned up to collect their IDs said that they have taken along time to be processed ahead of Tuesday’s expiry of the voter registration deadline.
They blocked General Waruinge Street leading to the Kariokor roundabout by lighting bonfire using old vehicle tyres. It is then that police moved in to disperse the crowd that was waiting to be served.
“There has been a problem here in Kariokor since September; every time I come to collect it is not there, I was here last Tuesday, was told again to come here today (Monday) and cannot access the premises,” said Jane Adhiambo while she stood outside the DC’s offices.
“I was here from 5am but was shocked when I was restrained by officers who insisted that I cannot go in,” added Thomas Otieno who claimed to have applied for the identity card on November 1.
Some however are pointing an accusing finger at the officers issuing IDs saying that they were demanding bribes before issuing the IDs.
“I have been coming here since July. I have even been sent to the NSSF house but I am told my ID is here at Kariokor but I have not received it. I have witnessed people paying registration officers so that they are given the cards when it is our right,” said Asha Ali who was there to replace an identity card she lost.
Starehe District Commissioner Omar Beja however said that all those who came to collect the cards could not be accommodated in the compound and had to be served in small groups.
He said that 3,000 identity cards have been collected since December 3 while another 26,000 remain uncollected.
“There has been a rush for three weeks now presumably since voter registration started; so people are coming in to register and others to collect some of the cards which have been here for quite a long time,” he said adding that some of the cards had been there since 1997.
He said that registration officials at the Starehe District headquarters have received about 5,000 applications in the last 11 days and are processing them.
Beja said that plans are underway to decongest the district headquarters by opening registration and ID collection centres in Mathare and Ngara divisions.
The government estimates that the about 500,000 cards are uncollected nationwide while another 300,000 applicants have waiting cards.
Last week, Parliament passed an amendment to the Elections Act enabling Kenyans with waiting cards to register as voters. The law is still awaiting presidential assent.