Nairobi, Kenya: As government announced the sacking of fifteen high ranking immigration officials, investigations by The Standard on Sunday reveal a core of corrupt government employees working in cahoots with rogue businessmen to provide an array of paperwork that would pass as legal government-issued identification documents.
For the right price, well-connected government employees will create a whole identity for an individual, evading whatever checks and measures put in place by the government. it is a sad reality that documents reserved for rightful Kenyan citizens are being mass produced for a profit.
An ill-prepared, ill-paid, poorly motivated workforce is keen to look the other way for that extra shilling with little regard to the risk they put the country in. For about Sh100,000 one can get a birth certificate, school leaving certificate, national identity card, certificate of good conduct, driving license as well as a Kenyan passport.
To the untrained eye, the documents being processed by the cartels involving government officials look as genuine as the original documents. It is only after very keen scrutiny, against an original document, that one would probably pick out a minor element that is different from one in a genuine document.
With no noticeable database available to law enforcement, it would be difficult to verify these documents. This corrupt system is putting Kenya as well as the entire EAC at risk of dangerous criminals.
From the tip of Somalia, southwards to the Comoros, eastwards to the Democratic Republic of Congo and westward to the Seychelles, Kenya has for decades been the preferred destination for individuals with dodgy pasts wishing to settle into a sedentary life complete with cooked-up official documentation.
The process begins with a phone call from a client to a middleman after a referral. After that, initial contact is established between the client and the provider (a government official) and a meeting place agreed upon.
As few details as possible are exchanged between the two parties. The price of each document is laid out. A birth certificate goes for Sh15,000. For another Sh20,000 one gets a national identity card. Sh15,000 gives one a school-leaving certificate. An extra Sh10,000 will get you a driving license while for Sh20,000 each, one gets a passport and a certificate of good conduct. There is no room for bargaining as one is made to understand the dangers involved in the whole business. There are few or no questions asked.
A down payment is then made and one is told to await further instructions of when to collect the documents. Unnecessary phone calls or text messages are discouraged. All this takes a total of two weeks. But for an extra fee, the process can be fast-tracked and paperwork could be ready in between 3 to 5 days. All that is required are your “official” names, and several copies of passport size photographs. Calling to find out the progress of the documentation process is hugely frowned upon.
Credit: THE STANDARD ON SUNDAY TEAM