Taita-Taveta County government has started the process of evicting 69 nurses from government staff quarters after the two-week notice to vacate the houses expired.
The targeted nurses are part of over 400 medical workers who have been on strike since December last year.
On Wednesday morning, a contingent of county enforcement officers descended on the complex that house medical staff and their families and embarked on a ruthless eviction operation.
The teams moved from house to house throwing out all household items from the quarters. They also padlocked the vacant houses to prevent owners from coming back. Houses whose owners were absent were locked to deny access.
A similar operation was undertaken simultaneously in all the sub-counties of Voi, Mwatate, Wundanyi and Taveta sub-counties.
In Voi, the evicted medical staff were stranded as they frantically made plans to move into new residences. A medic who was evicted termed the operation as brutal.
“There was not even an eviction notice. They just arrived and ordered us out,” said the medic who declined to be named.
However, the county government said it had given the medical workers adequate time to seek alternative accommodation.
When contacted, the County Executive Committee Member for Health John Mwakima said the striking nurses had declined to appeal even after being interdicted were requested to have left the government houses by February 5.
“Their grace period expired long ago. We need to make room for the nurses we are currently hiring,” he said.
He disclosed that 20 nurses have already resumed work after their appeals against their sacking were approved. 15 more appeals are being looked into by the County Public Service Board (CPSB).
Mr. Mwakima said those targeted for eviction declined to file appeals against their dismissal and to resume work.
“We have exhausted all avenues to engage them on coming back to work. We have no choice but to have them move so that those houses can be occupied by the incoming medical staff,” he said.
He further urged the nurses to file their appeals to the CPSB to argue out their cases and be considered for reinstatement.
“Their fate now rests with the board. Those willing to work should do their appeals. We need to restore normalcy in the health sector,” he said.
There are plans to employ over 200 medical officers including nurses, clinical officers and physiotherapists to replace those that are on strike.
Since the strike started in December last year, health services in the county have been paralyzed with patients only receiving outpatient services.
None of the public hospitals in the region is offering inpatient admission services. However, laboratory services and consultation are ongoing as doctors and lab workers called off their strike.
There have been calls from the public for the government to resolve the impasse with the medical workers to alleviate suffering for the citizens.
by Wagema Mwangi