E-CITIZEN APP IS EXORBITANT, COURT TOLD.

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Activist Okiya Omtatah before Justice Jogh Motivo.

BY SAM ALFAN.

Human rights crusader Okiya Omtatah wants the Sh50 charged for E-Citizen transactions overhauled.

According to the activist, the flat rate of Sh50 per transaction charged over and above the transaction fees billed by service providers of digital payments options on e-Citizen has no legal backing.

He also wants the direct procurement of digital payments service providers for the e-Citizen platform invalidated.

Mr Omtata has asked the court to annulthe single sourcing/direct procurement in its entirety.

He also wants an order to be issued for review of the system for a period not exceeding six months to allow the respondent time to regularize the procurement from private service providers.

The activist is  aggrieved that all the seven digital payment options on the e-Citizen portal (Mpesa, Airtel Money, Visa Card, MasterCard, Eazzypay, E-Agent, KCB Cash, and Equity Cash) were single sourced and directly procured in contemptuous contravention of both the provisions of the Constitution governing public procurement, and the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act

Mr Omtata argues that the administrative fee of 50 shillings per transaction, which is paid over and above the transaction fees, is unjustified, exorbitant and exploitative, and is also unreasonable and outright unlawful to the extent that it was arbitrarily arrived at.

“The petitioner posits that administrative fee of Sh50 per transaction billed over and above the transaction fees is way above the market rate for such services and was set without any benefit of a market survey to ascertain the average market price as required under Section 54 (2) of the PPADA,” claims Omtatah

Further he says that the respondent has never demonstrated that the funds collected through the e-Citizen portal were, as required, are finally deposited into the Consolidated Fund’s National Exchequer Account held at the Central Bank by the National Treasury.

He claims that the respondents have never disclosed the amount of money that has been raised through the e-Citizen portal and how it has been used.

The e-Citizen portal is the official digital payment platform of the Government of Kenya, which enables Kenyan citizens and other members of the public to pay for and access government services.

“The petitioner posits that the procurement of services from private entities must not be treated as would procurements between government departments, which are exempted from competitive bidding,” read the court documents.

He argues that failure to conduct due diligence on would-be service providers and to then subject them to competitive procurement, has resulted in the procurement of poor services which have compromised the e-Citizen portal’s performance, including by the recurrent failures of the facility.

“To make matters worse, the respondent imposes no sanctions on the service providers whenever their payment platforms fail to operate,” argues Omtata

He now wants the respondents compelled to fairly, transparently, competitively and cost- effectively procure digital payments options for the government’s e- Citizen.go.ke strictly according to the law.

Proceedings resume.

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