Kenyans seeking services at Huduma Centres across the country may soon be forced to part with fees through their pockets after the government announced a yet-to-be formalised plan to charge for these services.
The plan was made public by Public Service, Performance, and Delivery Management Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria who was speaking after taking the reins at his new docket from CS Aisha Jumwa.
According to Kuria, the move would realise plans to ensure that Huduma Centres become self-sustainable without solely depending on the government exchequer in a bid to strengthen service delivery to Kenyans.
The fee, he added, would go towards facilitating 52 Huduma centres countrywide.
"Our Huduma Centres have been a popular source of government services for so many of us, and we must make sure they become self-sustainable without depending so much on the National Treasury.
“What of introducing a small fee for services offered? What of providing private sector services at a small fee? Venturing into E-commerce?" Kuria posed.
The plans could see Kenyans having to pay for seeking services at Huduma Centres including renewing driving licences, duplicate national identity cards as well as the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).
Others include the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) Student Loan Application and Repayments, National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) registration and claims, issuance of police abstracts and single business permits among others, which have been long available to Kenyans to access for free anytime they visit the centres.
“You have been enjoying these services without paying, there is no more free lunch. You have to pay for it, we will introduce a fee for service for government service and private service to support our e-commerce because Huduma Centre will be the backbone for e-commerce," Kuria added.
Huduma Centres were introduced by former President Uhuru Kenyatta as part of Vision 2030. The first Huduma Centre was launched at Nairobi GPO in 2013 to address the endless queues in public offices which were seen as undermining time management and undermining the quality of services.
The government is planning to increase the number of the centres from the current 52 by revamping postal corporation centres into government service centres. There are currently 893 post offices countrywide.
CS Jumwa during her stint at Public Service in November 2022, introduced new working hours at Huduma Centres from the original 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. to 12-hour operations of 7.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. work schedule on weekdays to benefit Kenyans seeking services after 5.00 pm when most of them leave their workplaces.
Many of the services offered at Huduma Centres require complimentary support from the e-Citizen platform which charges a small service fee.
In August, the revenue raised through fees related to government services in the e-Citizen self-service portal crossed the Ksh2 billion mark for the first time ever.
This followed a directive from president William Ruto that all government services be accessible through one common platform - the e-Citizen Paybill Number.