Thousands of Kenyans are scrambling to beat a deadline set by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to register their SIM cards or have them switched off.

The regulator ordered mobile network operators Safaricom, Airtel, and Telkom Kenya to register their customers by April 15 to avoid deactivation. This is the third time the regulator is threatening to switch off unregistered lines after similar warnings in 2012 and 2018.

“We have committed to do our best to ensure all our customers comply with the directive and urge them to ensure compliance before the deadline. We encourage all customers who are yet to update their registration details to do so immediately to avoid the last-minute rush,” Safaricom told the Nation.

Operators have increased registrations of the clients.

“To this end, we have set up registration stations in various spots across the country to get closer to our customers so that they can submit their details,” the telco said.

On Thursday, several Kenyans could be seen lining up outside shops of various telcos seeking to register their phone lines.

Under the Registration of SIM Card Regulations (2015), CA prohibits the hawking of the cards. Offenders face six months in jail, a Sh300,000 fine or both.

The rules aim to streamline SIM card registration by agents, which has been a headache for the regulator and telcos because some subscribers use the lines to commit fraud.

Operators will be required to update customers’ details with a digital passport-size photo of the customer and their national ID, and a passport for refugees and others.