The County Government of Vihiga has withheld salaries of nearly 300 health workers for the last five month on claims they were hired irregularly.
Governor Wilber Ottichilo, while briefing journalists on developments in the health department, said there had been a problem during the recruitment process.
The governor said the relevant county executive committee had approved the recruitment of 300 workers to join the different health service teams.
The only condition, he added, was that the hiring be done in phases, depending on availability of funds.
“The County Public Service Board (CPSB) was requested to recruit 149 staff, which was based on the budgeted funds available at that time. Advertisements were placed in the local dailies, interviews were conducted and appointments made,” the governor said.
However, according to the governor, the number of health workers issued with employment letters exceeded the recommended.
He said the CPSB also delayed before releasing the names of new employees, which affected the salaries payment process.
“The Department of Health Services provided a payroll of recruited staff that revealed massive discrepancies in the number of staff positions advertised and those approved for recruitment," Ottichilo said.
He added: "This resulted in a sudden and huge increase in the wage bill beyond budgetary allocations and ceilings as provided for under the public finance laws."
The governor said after consultation with the county leadership, they agreed to conduct an independent investigation into the recruitment exercise before taking any action.
“As a result of this process, my government is not able to process any payments for the newly recruited staff until the investigation is concluded," he said.
Ottichilo urged the affected employees to exercise patience and cooperate by furnishing investigators with information that could help bring the matter to a speedy conclusion.
Kenya National Union of Nurses Vihiga branch Secretary General Caleb Malomba appealed to the county government to resolve the matter immediately.
"It is sad because county health services have long been frustrated because there aren't enough health officials,” said Mr Malomba.
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