By Enyichukwu Enemanna
A High Court of Kenya on Thursday barred the government from going ahead to implement a proposed fee on the issuance of national identity card and other government-issued documents.
This follows a petition filed by surgeon Magare Gikenyi who argued that the government introduced the charges in a “capricious and arbitrary manner”.
The petitioner argued that the charge implies that ID cards were “out of reach of many ordinary citizens”
The court while ruling against the proposed new charge cited the government’s arbitrary introduction of the fees.
The issuance of national ID card had been free for all Kenyans of 18 years and above but a fee of 1,000 Kenyan shillings ($6; £5) was introduced without any advance notice.
The cost of replacing ID cards has also increased 20-fold to 2,000 shillings.
This decision comes as Kenyans grapple with a growing cost-of-living crisis and widespread discontent over increased government charges.
Under the new policy, obtaining or replacing various categories of passports will increase by more than 50%, while the fees for obtaining birth and death certificates have increased by more than four times, reaching 200 shillings.
The government has also hiked the cost of acquiring citizenship or residence, including doubling the amount payable for children born to Kenyan citizens abroad to acquire permanent residence in Kenya to one million shillings.
The hikes were the latest in a series of revenue-generating measures introduced by President William Ruto’s administration since he came to power September last year.
Earlier this year, the opposition led nationwide protests against a series of tax and prices hikes which led to at least 24 deaths.