Governor Samboja sends over 1,000 staff packing

Governor Granton Samboja. He says move is intended to improve service delivery. [File, Standard]

The Taita Taveta County Government has sacked more than 1,000 casual workers and staff on long-term contracts.

At least 1,100 workers have been affected by the purge linked to the county administration's struggles to slash its ballooning wage bill.

“I saw the blanket notice sacking us and I got a headache. I do not know where to go now. The sacking was untimely and disrespectful as there was no courtesy in the decision,” protested one of the affected employees in Wundanyi town yesterday.

Those affected include 336 Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teachers, vocational training centres instructors and officers from the communications department, among others.

Some of the sacked employees had worked for both the defunct local authority and in the last administration.

At the same time, the fate of 333 ECDE centres hangs in the balance because nearly 60 per cent of the sacked teachers, who were branded 'ghost workers', are on contract.

Governor Granton Samboja’s administration had employed 1,261 casuals and was paying an average monthly wage bill of Sh22 million, or Sh264 million annually.

Supplementary budget

The executive had allocated Sh274 million for wages in the 2019-2020 budget but the amount was recently slashed to Sh110 million in a supplementary budget.

On November 22, County Secretary Liverson Mghendi issued a notice to all casual employees after a head count exercise.

“This is to notify you that beginning January 1, 2020, you will no longer be a casual employee with the county government of Taita-Taveta," read the notice that ordered the employees to vacate their work stations immediately.

It added: "However, stand advised that you may apply as and when the County Public Service Board posts an advert on departmental need basis."

Workers who were caught unawares by the notice to sack them warned that they would seek legal redress.

“I have served in the defunct Taita Taveta County Council and the former administration. I do not know where to go. I have children to feed and educate. The county administration should rescind its decision,” said one worker.

Another worker claimed that Samboja's administration was targeting employees who had been hired by the previous administration. “We are aware that our positions will be filled by cronies of the executives."

According to the county's September payroll, there were 3,216 employees. Out of these, 3,120 turned up to be counted.

A fortnight ago, Samboja reorganised his administration when he sacked five executives.

Those who were fired included Frank Mwangemi (Education), Claris Mnyambo (Gender), Houghtone Mombo (Public Works), Bigvai Mwailemi (Sports) and Janet Mwawasi (Tourism).