The Department of Immigration is yet to account for the loss of Sh2.7 billion between 2013 and 2015.
In a report, Auditor General Edward Ouko said the State Department of Immigration issued visa stickers worth Sh2,728,302,000 to the Foreign Affairs ministry during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 financial years.
The report indicates 39,900 blank passports valued at Sh202,500,000 were issued to five consulate missions and 13,872 printed passports valued at Sh65,988,000 to foreign missions and embassies.
In these circumstances, Ouko said a total revenue collected excluding certificate of good conduct, identity cards and others of Sh2,996,790,000 differs with the Sh1,524,300,362 reflected in the financial statements.
This is despite President Uhuru Kenyatta’s warnings that state officers who misappropriate public money will not be spared.
But Ouko in the report said the immigration department to date has not accounted for the loss of Sh1,472,489,638.
Ouko’s report further states that blank passports valued at Sh133,052,500 were issued by the Immigration department to Kenyan Embassies in Washington DC, London, Berlin and Pretoria but the were not recorded in the Counter Receipt Book Registers.
“The existence of these passports could not be confirmed as a result of failure by the missions to produce them for physical audit verification,” read part of the report.
The report further said, “In view of the foregoing, together with explanation submitted by State Department of Immigration that visa stickers and passports are not included in Public Finance Regulations as accountable documents, it is not possible to confirm that their use is lawful and effective as required in Article 229 (6) of the Constitution”.
Records maintained at the Directorate of Immigration and Registration of Persons show Sh44,595,736 was paid to a firm for supply, installation, testing and commissioning of IP-CCTV at Nyayo House, Malaba and Lwakhakha Border Points but a physical verification conducted at Malaba and Lwakhakha border points revealed that some equipment valued at Sh5,107,000 were neither delivered nor installed.
PS Gordon Kihalangwa said,”This is a matter that has been in the public domain for the longest time. The matter was responded and media should well be knowing this”.
Kihalangwa was the director of the department during the years under review.
In July this year, officers from the department were summoned by a High Court to confirm whether Lucy Wambui Ngirita, linked to the NYS scam, had a passport.
Chief magistrate Douglas Ogoti ordered the officers to appear before him in person to confirm the status of Ngirita’s passport after conflicting details regarding the document were tabled in court.
Wambui had initially told the court that she did not have a passport, but later admitted she was issued with one in 2009.
She told the court that the passport got lost later and she applied for another passport in March last year.
Later on, the Immigration Department launched investigations to establish how Somalia deputy spy chief Fahad Dahir Ahmed got four Kenyan passports.
PS Kihalangwa told the Star that the department sought to establish how Fahad’s citizenship was approved.
“Knowing details of the person is one way of securing the country. One cannot be a Kenyan and then go get a sensitive job of that nature the other side,” Kihalangwa said.
“Another matter of concern is if a dual citizen is allowed to go and work for a certain government in such serious position.”
This has seen a section of MPs demand that the war against corruption be extended to the department.
Led by West Mugirango MP Vincent Kemosi, the lawmakers accused the department of inexplicably giving work permits to Chinese nationals for SGR jobs that can be done by Kenyans.
The legislators said there are more than 5,000 Chinese workers at the SGR, including cooks, welders, cleaners and such odd jobs.
“This issue must be sorted forthwith,” Kemosi said.
“We support the fight against corruption by President Uhuru Kenyatta, but the fight should not be selective.”
Recently, Interior CS Fred Matiang’I had raised a red flag, saying the government has spent Sh360 million to deport illegal immigrants in the current financial year 2017-18.
Matinag’i said every deportation ticket costs the government about Sh230,000.
The CS said the government is being strict with the enforcement of immigration rules to save the country further costs through deportations.
He said the rules must be enforced without compromise “because the money can be used for other development projects”.
“How can a country of our size be spending money like that? Our projections are that if we don’t do our work well, we will need close to Sh500 million to deport illegal people from our country in the next financial year,” Matiang’i said.
More on this Read: State spent Sh360 million to deport illegal immigrants – Matiang’i
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.