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Panic grips workers as county conducts headcount

The  Kisumu Deputy Governor, Dr. Mathew Owili supervising the headcount at the New Nyanza Regional headquarters before addressing the media on Monday February 24, 2020. Photo by KNA.

The  County government of Kisumu has embarked on another headcount to help weed out ghost workers.

The exercise which kicked off on Monday will see the over 4, 000 workers paid their January salary by cheque upon verification of their appointment letters and academic certificates.

The mode of payment was arrived at to ensure that all workers appear in person to be counted before receiving their January salaries.

Workers drawn from different departments within the County Executive braved long queues at the New Nyanza Regional Headquarters to get paid.

Speaking after the launch of the five days’ exercise, the Kisumu County Deputy Governor, Dr. Mathew Owili  said any worker who shall fail to appear shall be deemed a ghost worker.

“Any worker who shall not turn up to collect their cheques by Friday shall be deemed a ghost worker and will in turn be deleted from the payroll,” he said.

Dr. Owili said the headcount was a culmination of a process that kicked off two years ago to clean the devolved government’s payroll amid a huge wage bill.

Records, he said indicated that some offices had more staff than others yet on the ground the individual officers were not present.

“We have some departments that are understaffed yet others have so many workers who when you visit these offices are actually nowhere to be seen,” he said.

This, he said pointed to existence of ghost workers, adding that the cleanup exercise shall see more staff redeployed or recruited to the understaffed departments.

“This exercise is going to help us reorganize the workforce. We have some critical departments like health which are understaffed and doctors need promotions. So if we can manage to weed out some ghost workers then we shall be able to rationalize this,” he said.

However, a cross-section of workers are opposed to the mode of payment saying it had led to a delay in salaries and was a threat to the security of workers.

Speaking on behalf of nurses, the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Deputy Secretary General, Maurice Opetu said the security of workers who serve in far flung corners of the county was at risk.

“Now everybody knows we have cheques which we are going to cash and this is not safe for workers,” he said.

Another worker who requested for anonymity said the move was a ploy by the county government to swindle public funds.

The manner in which it was being conducted, he said raised eyebrows with the writing clear on the wall that no ghost worker shall be nabbed.

“Look at the way they are verifying academic documents and letters of appointment. Anything here can pass so what are they verifying?” he asked.

This is the third headcount to be carried out by the county government in two years with growing concerns that a lot of money was being spent on salaries than development.

By  Chris  Mahandara

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