Only 10 per cent of Huduma cards picked as Gov’t prepares for phase two registration


Only 10 per cent of Huduma cards picked as Gov't prepares for phase two registration
File Image of Huduma Namba cards. PHOTO / COURTESY

Only 10 per cent of huduma cards issued have been collected by their owners, the government has said.

Despite plans to phase out the national identity cards and replace them with the huduma cards, 1.3 million Kenyans whose cards are ready and had been notified have not collected the cards.

A text message from the Huduma Namba department alerts anyone who registered two years ago that their card is ready for collection. A link gives the receiver of the message an option to select their preferred pick up location.

My choice directs me to Nyayo house where my huduma card should be. The area is deserted, a far cry from the long queues witnessed at the end of mass registration exercise in 2019.

After confirming my identity, the huduma card is handed to me. I confirm my details and the card is activated.

It’s been slightly over a month since I received a message stating that my huduma card is ready for collection at my preferred location.

It took me less than five minutes to get it. But I cannot dispose my ID card just yet as the user points have not been activated. The collection book I have to sign shows the uptake of the card is less than impressive.

“Only 10 per cent of the cards that have been sent out have been collected…which is about 200,000,” said Government Spokesman Col. Cyrus Oguna.

Pendo Malai, the principal registrar of persons in Starehe constituency attributes the low uptake to limited information on the huduma number card amongst registered users.

Pendo Malai, Principal Registrar of Persons in Starehe constituency attributes the low uptake to limited information on the huduma card amongst registered users.

“I believe the issue could be that the information has reached but one is sceptical over the message received…one is not sure whether it is from a credible source,” said Ms. Malai.

While the distribution continues, a look at the number of cards received vis a vis those collected at various huduma centres paints a discouraging picture; so far 850 bureaus have received the huduma cards across the 47 counties.

At the GPO huduma centre, out of 1,987 cards received, only 693 have been picked up by their owners, leaving 1,294 uncollected.

At Kibra DCC, out of 8,277 cards received, only 1,344 have been collected, with 7,195 remaining uncollected.

Embakasi, which has the highest number of cards received at 51,191, only 5,672 have been collected, a further 45,490 remaining uncollected.

In Kajiado County, out of 1,828 cards received in Kajiado north sub-county, only 317 have been collected; 1,511 have remained uncollected.

The card has details similar to the identification card but the features are slightly different. The huduma namba, for instance, is the ID card number with an added prefix, 10.

The card may be more presentable but lack of clarity about its relevance may be another reason why Kenyans who registered are dragging their feet when it comes to collecting it.

Also, the process of legislating has posed a challenge to its use.  The High Court nullified the miscellaneous amendment act 2018 that operationalised the huduma namba.

The Huduma Bill is yet to be assented to and the government is still waiting for the courts to determine an appeal it filed following the High Court’s decision in January 2020 to halt the implementation of the Huduma Namba until the enactment of adequate legislative and regulatory framework.

But, distribution continues even as the government embarks on registering those who are yet to do so.

“Phase 2 registration will begin end of April, it will continue at the chief’s office,” added Col. Oguna.

If all the 37 million Kenyans who registered in 2019 pick up their huduma cards before December this year, then government will be on its way to de-register the National ID card in use now.

But, only if the legal challenges on the way are dealt with before then.

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Story By Mashirima Kapombe
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