Passport Applicants to Benefit From SMS Tracker in Kenya

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Kenyans seeking passports will be spared unnecessary trips to the Immigration offices to check their application status once an SMS tracking facility becomes operational.

An Immigration official said the tool would be in operation in July together with a service charter requirement that all passports be processed in 10 days.

Presently, the official period for securing the travel document is three weeks, but it takes about three months in most cases to get hold of the travel document once requirements are met.

"Applicants are forced to come several times. Electronic tracking will help them save time and money. Processing should not take more than ten days then," said Mr Stephen Karanja, the Principal ICT officer at the Department of Immigration.

Tenders for the service will soon be invited. The department pointed out the service will not be offered at premium SMS rates. Within the department, officers are able to track the applications from the intranet.

However, he said applicants would still be required to appear before officers for positive identification on application and issuance. A month ago, the department introduced a new type of passport that will carry the bearer's digitised image. In the old passports, the individual photos were pasted then laminated to the passport.

Also the new passport will carry two photos where one, the immigration department refer to as 'ghost image,' cannot be seen with the naked eye. The move is aimed at curbing substitution of the photographs by forgers.

Business Daily