Clerics body decries closure of satellite passport issuing offices

e new chairman of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) has criticized the government directive of shutting down all regional offices that issue passports.

ThSheikh Abdalla Ateka described the directive by the new Director of Immigration, Major-General (Rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa as going against the spirit of devolution. “‘There is no problem centralizing the actual issuing of passports but Kenyans don’t have to be subjected to long and expensive journeys to Nairobi to apply for the document,” sheikh Ateka said. The move has already been criticized by a section of Members of Parliament who have termed the move as going against the spirit of bringing services closer to the people. Kisumu Town East MP Shakeel Shabbir said it was a big mistake to ask Kenyans to travel to Nairobi to apply for passports. In the new directive, issuing of passports in Embu, Nakuru, Garissa, and Eldoret has been halted while Mombasa and Kisumu offices are set to shut down by the end of this year.

The move has been billed as efforts to prevent issuing of the passports to non- Kenyans in order to boost national security. But the CIPK chairman said that “closing down of the offices will lead to more sufferings of Kenyan applicants who cannot afford traveling to Nairobi due to poverty or old.” “Who will cater for the high traveling expenses to Nairobi and accommodation?” said Ateka. Ateka pointed out that Kenyans were in need of the immigration and passport services hence it was wrong for the government to close down the offices instead but instead it should have facilitated the opening of more offices in other counties to provide the services for the local residents. He asked that the government put in place appropriate measures to prevent non-Kenyans from acquiring passports fraudulently instead of collective punishment of applicants who are genuine and entitled to have the traveling documents adding that security can be tightened without shutting down regional offices.

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