Couples who could not legalize their union after the registrar of marriages suspended services in efforts to contain Covid-19 can now breathe a sigh of relief after the application process was moved online.
The Office of the Attorney General (AG) and the Department of Justice in conjunction with E-citizen has developed an online platform to enable clients seeking various services offered by the Registrar of Marriage to apply for all the services online.
State Law Office Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Winnie Guchu while addressing the media on Friday at Sheria house said that the system has been pre-tested in the last two weeks by notifying the pending applicants totaling to 1,841 from which they have successfully received 779 re-applications.
“Marriage services have now officially resumed in Nairobi where all applications and payments will be done online through oag.ecitizen.go.ke and visits to the marriage registry will be through scheduled appointments and in compliance with all Ministry of Health (MOH) guidelines,” said Guchu.
She explained that before the covid-19 outbreak clients seeking marriage, services were not required to make prior appointments before visiting the marriage registry.
“In a day, the registry was serving an average of 600 clients and the services were being offered manually. With the pandemic, the registry had to devise ways of offering marriage services in compliance with MOH guidelines,” said the CAS.
Guchu said couples will only come to visit the marriage registrar’s office on the last day for verification purposes and to confirm they consent to the marriage. The event will have only five people including the couple, their two witnesses and the registrar of marriages and it will only take 15 minutes with the couple given five minutes for photos.
According to Guchu they are only conducting two marriages per day as they have to sanitize the office after every marriage and they are looking at ways of having the events outdoor so that they can have many of them in a day to address the backlog.
“We are also allowing people to conduct garden weddings with a maximum of 15 people and the event should not go beyond 45 minutes,” said Guchu.
She explained that the online system is to enable restricted interactions between the officers and members of the public seeking marriage services hence enabling crowd management through systemized flow of people.
“In our last press briefing held on the June, 4, 2020, the Office of the Attorney General committed to ensuring that the Marriage registry resumes its operations within the shortest time possible. As earlier indicated, the closure of the marriage registry due to the Covid-19 pandemic had affected 11 various services offered,” said the CAS.
She continued… “As earlier notified, the Registry had 815 pending Civil marriages and 1, 742 pending marriage notices at the time of suspension. The Ministry of Health visited the State law office and provided guidelines to be put in place before resuming provision of marriage services. We have complied with the recommendations from MOH and in particular, washing of hands and Social distancing.”
Guchu highlighted that the services which will be offered on the e-citizen platform include registration of marriage by notice, registration of marriage by special licence, application for Certified Copy of a Marriage Certificate, application for Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage, registration of existing Hindu marriages, registration of new and existing customary marriages, licensing of Ministers of Faith, issuance of marriage books, registration of adoptions, registration of foreign marriage, objections to marriage.
The CAS said that the online applications are being rolled out in Nairobi for now and the system shall be decentralized countrywide by August this year.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a