Hundreds of residents of Madogo in Tana River County over the weekend took to the streets and paralysed operations for hours to protest against what they termed as open discrimination in issuing of identity cards.
Waving placards and posters, the protestors, who were mainly youths, appealed to the government to ensure they are issued with the IDs saying lack of the vital document has caused them much suffering as they have “become destitute in their own country”.
Maulid Mohamed, one of the protesters, said he is among hundreds of young people from the area who have been waiting for the document for the last two years, adding that some have been waiting for more than five years.
He added that not much information about their IDs has been forthcoming from the registration office.
“It has been two years and the registration officials are taking us in circles whenever we ask [for the IDs].
“We have literately been rendered helpless because without IDs we can’t do anything, not even opening a simple M-Pesa account,” he said.
He said lack of identity cards may push young people into criminal activities because they cannot form groups to get loans.
He added that they have been targeted for harassment and extortion by police officers who demanded for official identification which they do not have.
The protesters, who paralysed operations along the busy Garissa-Nairobi highway on Saturday, claimed the registration office in Tana River has been compromised by local politicians and only people with political connections manage to secure the important document.
“We are wondering whether we are indeed Kenyans. It is our right to have these document but politicians have made it a habit to ensure only those close to them get IDs while many of youths are suffering because they can’t do anything without these documents,” added Mr Mohamed.
When contacted, Tana River County Registrar of Persons Benson Kwendo said those with issues should report to the nearest registration office so that their waiting cards can be verified.
He also urged those with complaints to forward their names to his office for action to be taken.
Source: The Nation