Last week on Wednesday I made my epassport application for a lost passport, three days after the CS Interior Fred Matiangi announced that all ePassport Applications must go hand in hand with an epassport Appointment. The ePassport Appointment works like this – you make your epassport application on the eCitizen Portal (see this article for application procedure), then you book a location, date, and time for where and when your epassport application can be processed. I booked for my appointment to be today at 11 AM at Nakuru Immigration Office.
This is what I expected when booking my appointment – That the System knows the maximum number of people who can be served within one hour, so that only the maximum number of people who can be served within that hour were being allocated a particular time (of one hour duration) as their booking time.
For example, during my whole day stay at the immigration office in Nakuru, when the system was working optimally, I calculated that on average one person took about ten minutes between walking into the counters and walking out. The number of counters that were serving people were two, meaning the office is capable of serving 12 people per hour. For an optimal figure therefore and to maximize on human resource, the office should be able to serve 15 people in one hour.
It is therefore doesn’t take magic for one to reason that a working booking process ought to allow only 15 people to book to be served within one hour, such that once the 15 slots are taken up, that particular hour becomes unavailable for booking.
If this was the case, then you’d expect no more than 30 people waiting on the queue to be served at any particular time. I think I was giving the Kenyan government way too much credit. When arrived at the immigration office, I found that there were no less than one hundred people waiting to be served between 11 AM and 12 PM. To make matters worse, the office started working at 10:30 AM, with the excuse being that the epassport system had been down since Friday afternoon. This, they said, led them to pushing forward the services of those who were to be served on Friday afternoon to Monday morning (who were served between 10:30 AM and 11 AM), then those who had book to be served at 9 AM were served at 11 AM, those who had booked to be served at 10 AM were served at 11 AM, and those like me who had booked to be served at 11 AM were not served, thanks to the system breaking down again just as the staff went for lunch.
The failure of the system forced me to reschedule my appointment to tomorrow 9 AM, after wasting a whole day standing in the queue between 11 AM and 4 PM. I hadn’t taken any breakfast, and of course I couldn’t risk breaking for lunch.
This experience reminded me of a recent job interview experience I had with the Kenya Horticultural Exporters. The company had called all job applicants to appear for the interviews at 9 AM, and about 20 people showed up. Given that their waiting bay could only accommodate 4 people at a time, the remaining 16 were asked to bask in the sun outside the dusty gate. Worse still, an interview took an average of one hour per person implying that the last person to be called was to be called after 20 hours. I waited for two hours then walked out.
The interview could have been organized such that each applicant was to be allocated own reporting time; where the first person could have reported at 9 AM, the second at 10 AM, and so forth and so forth – and the interviews could have continued two to three days, and we couldn’t have experienced the mess that we did.
The government of Kenya has done somewhat better with the eppassport appointment, only that it hasn’t considered that maximum number of people that should be allocated per hour. Secondly, where in 2019 do we still have systems failing? Is the government still using the Pentium Computers running on Windows XP instead of Core i7 with Windows 10 on the minimum? This I asked because just before those who had booked their epassport appointment at 11 AM could be served, the server crashed and the restarting of the servers took way longer than the entire afternoon.
Those of you who work or know those who work at the ICT Ministry (I hope the ministry is in charge of all government’s ICT Infrastructure in all ministries), can you give the ICT CS and his PS free ICT pro bono advice?