Court suspends Government’s Plan to Increase ID & Passport Fees

The State Department of Immigration and Citizen Services, acting on behalf of the government, implemented a substantial revision of fees for various essential services, encompassing applications for passports, IDs, work permits, and birth and death certificates. This initiative, disclosed through a special gazette notice by Interior Cabinet Secretary Prof. Kithure Kindiki on a Wednesday, signifies a notable adjustment in the financial requirements for accessing these crucial documents.

Prof. Kindiki specified the revised fee structure, particularly highlighting the increased costs associated with passport applications. For instance, the fee for a standard 34-page passport application has undergone a significant surge, escalating from the previous Ksh. 4,500 to the new amount of Ksh. 7,500. Similarly, the cost for a 50-page ordinary passport has risen to Ksh. 9,500, up from the existing Ksh. 6,000, while the application fee for a 66-page ordinary passport has experienced a substantial increment of Ksh.5,000, now standing at Ksh.12,500.

In the wake of these newly gazetted charges, there are noteworthy adjustments for first-time ID applicants. Previously provided at no cost, individuals seeking their initial ID cards are now required to make a payment of Ksh. 1,000 for the acquisition of these essential documents. Additionally, the replacement of lost IDs, a service formerly charged at Ksh.100, has undergone a considerable tenfold increase, now demanding a payment of Ksh. 1,000.

The High Court has taken the step of temporarily halting the enforcement of a Gazette notice that introduced heightened charges for numerous government services, encompassing the application processes for national IDs and passports. This legal intervention follows a petitioner initiating a court challenge against the Gazette notice issued on November 6th.

Justice L.N Mugambi, in response to the petition, has issued a conservatory order. This order explicitly suspends Gazette Notices No. 15239-15242, dated November 6, 2023, as well as any other document claiming authority to augment or reassess the charges, fees, or levies specified within the notices. This suspension is effective until a thorough hearing and determination of the application inter-partes.

Dr. Magare Gikenyi, the petitioner, contends that the expenses associated with the listed services were escalated without any discernible formula or public involvement. Additionally, he asserts that this arbitrary increase is likely to disproportionately impact young Kenyans, potentially hindering their ability to obtain identity cards, which, in turn, could impede their access to employment opportunities.

The petition further underscores that the actions of the respondents could lead to various negative consequences, including but not limited to a loss of public confidence and a blatant misuse of political power. The detrimental effects are particularly emphasized concerning the younger population in the county.

The legal proceedings on this matter are scheduled for confirmation of compliance and the issuance of further directions on November 29, 2023. This decision marks a crucial juncture in addressing the concerns raised by the petitioner and evaluating the implications of the contested Gazette notice on government service charges.

This series of fee revisions outlined in the gazette notice has sparked public attention and, as evidenced by the aforementioned legal challenges, has raised concerns about the potential socio-economic impact, particularly on the accessibility of identification documents for various segments of the population.

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