The High Court has taken action to suspend a Kenya Gazette Notice that announced substantial increases in charges for critical documents such as identity cards, passports, and government staff badges.
Dr. Magare Gikenyi, a Nakuru-based doctor, filed a petition challenging the arbitrary nature of the increases and their potential impact on ordinary Kenyans.
Justice Lawrence Mugambi certified the case as urgent and suspended the levies and fees pending the determination of the petition.
“A conservatory order be and is hereby issued suspending Gazette Notices No. 15239-15242 dated 6th November 2023 and/or any other document purporting to give authority to increase or review the charges/fees/levies specified therein pending the hearing and determination of this Application inter-partes,” Mugambi stated
The judge directed Dr. Gikenyi to serve the court documents to the relevant government officials and set a date for the mentioning of the matter to confirm compliance.
The Gazette Notice, dated November 6, outlined significant fee hikes, including a 66.7 per cent increase in the cost of processing a basic passport, raising it to Sh7,500.
Additionally, the cost of replacing a national identity card surged from Sh100 to Sh2,000, and late registration of death will now cost bereaved families Sh500, up from Sh150.
Civil servants also faced substantial increases, with the fee for replacing their job cards rising from Sh100 to Sh2,000.
Dr. Gikenyi argued that the increases were made in a capricious and arbitrary manner, with fees rising as much as 20 times the original amount and new charges being introduced without any formula or public participation.
He emphasized the potential impact on young Kenyans seeking essential documents, highlighting the potential difficulties in obtaining job opportunities and asserting that the reviews were not approved by Parliament.
"In considering NPR would affect young Kenyans joining the age of majority, this increase is likely to affect young Kenyans and hence make it difficult for them to get Identity cards, the effect which will lead to inability to get job opportunities," Gikenyi stated.
The fees review extends beyond passports and identity cards, encompassing citizenship fees, fees on permanent residence, and land registration fees, which have also seen significant hikes.
The government aims to increase revenue collection by addressing fees and fines that have remained unchanged for decades, indicating a broader effort to enhance financial resources for the government.
The court's decision to suspend the Gazette Notice reflects the potentially far-reaching implications of the fee increases and the need for proper procedures and public participation in implementing such changes.
The upcoming determination of Dr. Gikenyi's petition will shed light on the legal aspects of the fee adjustments and their potential impact on the accessibility of essential documents for ordinary Kenyans.