The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has commenced a monitoring process of the systems, policies, procedures and practices applied during the issuance of passports, visas and registration of immigrants by the department of immigration.
The process expected to end in May will be a follow-up of a similar review done three years ago and will be aimed at finding gaps that hinder effective delivery of services at the department.
Speaking on Monday during the launch of the exercise held at the Immigration offices in Nyayo house Nairobi, Immigration Principal Secretary (PS), Dr. Gordon Kihalangwe welcomed the EACC team to audit the department saying that issuance of passports is the face of the immigration department.
Kihalangwe further acknowledged that the department has been grappling with corruption, integrity and influence peddler concerns and said that the audit results will be crucial in improving the delivery of services at the department.
He called on the relevant directors at the Immigration department to cooperate with the EACC officials mandated with carrying out the exercise to enable them have accurate report on areas that need further improvement.
“If you are guilty of any malpractice, carry your own cross. Do not deny the EACC officers information that will enable us improve service delivery to our people,” the PS told his directors.
He however complained of non-digitized bio data files that he said make the issuance of documents be it work permits or passports difficult, adding that tracing one file from over three million passport holder files is an uphill task.
“If NIIMS succeeds, we will address over 50 per cent of our problems. This is an upgrade from IPRS and as such, a crucial component in digitizing Kenyan profiles and data. We will know that whoever is not registered is not a Kenyan,” noted the PS.
The PS was categorical that his officers must do due diligence while issuing the immigration related documents, because allowing such crucial documents into the hands of wrong people is akin to exposing Kenya into the hands of terrorists as well as allowing entry of illegal contraband goods.
He however quipped that he has competent staff with some immigration officers having to begin their day at six in the morning up to seven in the evening, adding that while it may be an uphill task to have zero corruption, it can be minimized to manageable level.
The EACC Chief Executive Officer, Twalib Mbarak on his part urged the PS and his team to improve on their feedback mechanism which has received major complaints, adding that there is need for the department to continuously capacity build its officers.
“I was once in a queue where an immigration officer was using only one finger to type. How long will people stay in a queue in such a case?” asked Mbarak who stated that Kenya has competent people who can efficiently deliver.
He expressed concern over the number of hours Kenyans queue to get services jokingly, saying that one may be compelled to carry a snack to the queue because it takes a painstakingly long time.
Mbarak asked the team tasked with the monitoring exercise to ensure that their report includes staff competencies, immigration systems efficiency as well as client sensitization.
The monitoring exercise is expected to reveal avenues for corruption and other malpractices in the department as well enhance governance and integrity in the department of immigration.
By Alice Gworo