Kenya National ID – KQ is not seeing any problem with their foolish action

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  • 7 years ago
  • Posted: October 25, 2014 at 11:39 am

There is a lot of talk about the Kenya National ID thanks to the announcement by the government that by October next year it will start rolling out the NDRS project (National Digital Registry Service) in which new IDs dubbed Digital IDs will be issued, and the standoff between Senator Moses Wetangula’s and KQ staff at JKIA.

I have a question about the new generation National ID to be rolled out – will it contain our phone numbers (or any other contact information) in any way?

I also have a question in regards to Senator Wetangula’s experience, how humane/logical should human beings follow protocol?

Kenya National ID – Contact Information must be considered

I have read several articles highlighting the changes the government intend to make to the Kenya National ID. Some of the changes include:

  • Integrating all identity information in passports, driving license, job IDs, NHIF and NSSF documents etc in one ID card, the Kenya National ID card. When talking about integrating National ID with the National Passport, does it mean our foreign travels won’t require passports? Just kidding.
  • Embedding personal unique identifiers like digital fingerprint scans, digital iris scans and passport photos into the ID.
  • Collection of personal unique identifiers will also extend to kids aged 12 and above although such won’t be issued with the Kenya National ID.

Advantages that the features intended for incorporation in a National digital ID document stand to offer include the ability to follow up on deaths (some include births but surely, they won’t be issued at birth), ability to let citizens walk around  with only one document to identify them everywhere, and the ability to follow up on tax evaders (are tax evaders individuals? Most tax evaders are multinationals that run out economy dry to the tune of trillions of shillings each year. See: Africa is to blame for losing $60 billion to donors). Other advantages achievable in the security sector have also been cited. The digital IDs are seen as a means to strengthening national security, reducing crime and improving safety.

I like the idea that the new National ID will ‘stand in for’ all the other identification documents like passports and driving licenses, and that’s why the loss of the ID should be safeguarded. It is worth to keep in mind that issuing such an ID will be costly as details to be captured are more than those in current IDs and digitization of such data (hopefully capable of future updates) involves a high-end technological system and that’s why the budget for that exercise is Shs 9 billion.

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Such an expensive document should be safeguarded against loss. Given that the new Kenya National ID will be the document that most Kenyans will be walking around with as all the other ID documents won’t be needed in most circumstances, the rate at which these IDs will get lost will accelerate tremendously. It is also obvious that to replace a lost digital ID will be more expensive compared to the current standard analogue ID. To forestall issuance of numerous duplicate digital IDs occasioned by frequent losses, the government should ensure that personal contact information like phone numbers or a phone number of a family member or friend is embedded on the ID such that when the ID gets lost, the  ‘finder’ can contact the owner and arrange on handing it back.

In the meantime I have asked Safaricom to consider venturing into the business of connecting people with their lost IDs in the article: Safaricom should help me get back my lost ID

The standoff between Senator Moses Wetangula and KQ staff

There was a standoff between Senator Moses Wetangula and KQ staff. This is how Capital FM reported the incident:

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 24 – Kenya Airways has defended demands for proof of identification before boarding its planes, even as Senator Moses Wetangula (Bungoma) demanded an apology over what he described as humiliation by the airline after he failed to produce his ID for a flight to Mombasa on Thursday night.

The aircraft in which Wetangula, a host of other Senators and Speaker Ekwee Ethuro had boarded was grounded for three hours and everyone evacuated following what was described as a security concern.

“I would like to register my disappointment with the mistreatment and humiliation that I went through last night in the hands of the staff of the Kenya Airways. I feel offended and demand an apology from the national carrier for their mistreatment,” read a statement sent by the Bungoma Senator.

A statement posed on the airline’s Facebook page by the CEO designate Mbuvi Ngunze read in part: “Kenya Airways wishes to clarify that as per its security program approved by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, all passengers must show a form of photo identification prior to boarding an aircraft, either during check in or at boarding.”

Wetangula insists that he tried to explain to the staff about the whereabouts of his identification document but his pleas were simply ignored.

“I explained to the airline staff that I forgot to pick my ID card from the travel bag which my driver and security officer had driven with to Mombasa ahead of me. When they insisted, I produced my KQ Frequent Flier Platinum Card which bears my name, my parliamentary medical card which has my photo and all the five bank credit cards just to prove that it was me, but none of them could hear this,” complained Wetangula.

Kenya Airways however says it was complying with the civil aviation industry guidelines which outline its operations.

“Kenya Airways operates in a highly regulated industry and in the context of the prevailing security environment these measures become more imperative. These requirements are clearly posted at all the passenger accessible areas at all airports,” the statement further read.

The airline explained that such measures have become more necessary due to the prevailing security situation and the nature of its operations.

Wetangula has now threatened to introduce a motion in the Senate to discuss the conduct of the KQ staff and decide on any future engagement with the national carrier.

“The humiliation and embarrassment I was subjected to at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport last night in the presence of the two Speakers did not augur well with my colleagues present who have vowed to move a motion of adjournment next Tuesday to discuss the misconduct of the KQ staff,” added Wetangula.

He went on state that he had flown with the national carrier on several occasions both locally and internationally and even acquired the Frequent Flier’s Platinum status and did not understand why the staff treated him in the manner they did.

Nairobi Senator Gideon Mbuvi Alias Sonko has however promised to defend the KQ staff against any action initiated by Wetangula, saying that they were right to demand proof of identification even from VIPs.

I have two questions:

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1. Is it that the KQ staff didn’t recognize the Senator despite the production of other identity related documents including KQ Frequent Flier Platinum Card which bears the Senators name (that’s a KQ’s approved document for acknowledging that the bearer is entitled to privileges of platinum membership) parliamentary medical card which has a photo and bank credit cards?

This question relates to the article I wrote about Safaricom’s Customer Care Service asking them to be smarterIn that article I argued that if there is a form of identification acknowledged by anyone in one circumstance, then that particular identification document/credential should be acknowledged in all circumstances by the same person.

My friend Fredrick Ombako put this more succinctly on his Facebook Timeline thus:

The reason we produce ID cards is for purposes of ‘identification’ whether in a bank, MPESA shop, supermarket, a bus station or airport. The reason there’s a law for the same is so that it is enforceable. What if the bank, the MPESA agent, the supermarket, bus conductor or airport attendant(s) already know you?

As a frequent client in many places, the attendants know me and therefore never bother to ask for my ID. They already know me, so it is redundant to even ask for my ID. I expect the same for others in banks, MPESA shops, or airports. Or does one break the law by being practical and reasonable?

The reason, I think, companies employ human beings and not robots, is so that the person can use his brain to make a judgement on the problem at hand. A machine, like a robot, is programmed to do things in a certain specific way. When human’s become programmed to behave like machines, then we better start importing robots from China and Japan to do our tasks

2. The airline the Senator was to board was grounded for three houses due to Senator Wetangula not being able to produce his Kenya National ID. I am stretching my brain to see the correlation between lack of production of a National ID and security threat. How does not producing a National ID card create a security threat that warrants grounding an airline for three hours? A commenter on Mr. Ombako’s post rightly asks,

 Whose not-very-smart decision was it to get everyone off the plane just because they had let Weta into the plane bila ID? Isn’t an ID with your photo enough proof that you are who you are? The Pride of Africa?

No, KQ is not seeing any problem with their foolish action when they say:

Kenya Airways wishes to clarify that as per its security program approved by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, all passengers must show a form of photo identification prior to boarding an aircraft, either during check in or at boarding.


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