Kenya Association of Private Employment Agencies (KAPEA) chairman David Njoroge and other KAPEA officials addressing the media. PHOTO/COURTESY
By JAMES KARIUKI
More than 20,000 applications for new passports for Kenyans set to travel to Gulf States for employment are being held by the Immigration Department since October, officials of the Kenya Association of Private Employment Agencies (KAPEA) have claimed.
The KAPEA officials led by their chairman David Njoroge, said their efforts to fulfill the Bilateral Labour Agreements signed between Kenya and the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia and Qatar are being frustrated by different state agencies led by the Immigration Department.
“Since October last year the Immigration Department has failed to process more than 20,000 passports for migrant workers destined to Saudi Arabia and Qatar because some people there are demanding for bribes,” Mr Njoroge said.
He said immigration officers were demanding for bribes of more than Ksh 10,000 for a single passport in order to fast-track their processing. He said this has resulted in the number of workers going to the Gulf States per month dropping drastically.
“Since our more than 1,000 members have refused to give the bribes the migration officers are demanding to fast-track the issuance of passports for migrant workers the applications have now accumulated to more than 20,000,” he said.
Mr Njoroge appealed to the Cabinet Secretary for Internal Security Fred Matiang’i, to intervene and ensure the passports for migrant workers are released immediately to facilitate their travel to the Gulf States.
He said Kenyan migrant workers recruitment agencies would lose more than Ksh 12 billion annually if they accept to give the more than Ksh 10,000 bribes being demanded by immigration officers.
Mr Njoroge said they were also facing similar frustrations at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) where the migrant workers are also supposed to be issued with certificates of good conduct and also at the Registrar of Births.
“While at the DCI officers there are asking for bribes ranging from Ksh 5,000 for issuance of certificates of good conduct, at the Registrar of Births they are demanding Ksh 3,000 per birth certificate,” he said.
We were not able to get a comment from the Director of Immigration, Mr Alexander Muteshi, and DCI Director George Kinoti, by the time of filing this story.
Mr Njoroge said the massive corruption in the issuance of documents to facilitate travel of migrant workers abroad was undermining President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pledge of creating employment for the youth.
He said similar frustrations were also being experienced in the issuance of pre-departure training certificates by the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA).
“NITA is currently delaying issuance of pre-departure training certificates by up to six months due to unclear circumstances. We want this mischief stopped because we are being surcharged for the delayed departure of workers we have recruited to go abroad,” he said.
Mr Njoroge said any delays in processing departure of migrant workers who have already signed contracts with recruiters in the Gulf States attracted a surcharge of US$27 per day until the worker reached the employer.
“We have raised all these concerns with all the concerned stakeholders but no action is being taken. We are therefore appealing to CS Matiangi to intervene,” he said.
Mr Njoroge said the National Employment Authority had also been notified about their concerns but it is yet to provide a solution for the same.
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