Confusion, protests as Kisumu staff queue to collect pay cheques

Health workers await their January pay cheques at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Referral Hospital on Monday. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Tough questions await the county government of Kisumu if the ongoing headcount of workers fails to address the ballooning wage bill - again.

The headcount is meant to weed out ghost workers and is the third since 2017.

This came as Governor Anyang Nyong’o’s administration seeks an extra Sh699 million, through a supplementary budget, to help pay salaries in the current financial year.

The document is currently being analysed by the county assembly’s budget committee. 

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The money will also be used to pay January salaries for some categories of workers who were employed last year.

About 100 health workers, who were employed last October but have not been posted to work stations, are among the employees accused of drawing salaries without offering any services to the county.

The county has decided to pay workers by issuing individual cheques. It is hoped that this will kick out ghost workers as employee details are verified to ensure only genuine ones are paid.

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The exercise went on for a second day yesterday, even as some workers accused the county administration of investing heavily in a headcount that may fail to achieve its intended goals.

This is not the first time the county administration is carrying out a headcount funded by public cash, despite previous attempts failing to deal with the issue of ghost workers, one employee said.

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Employee data

Others claimed the county was relying on the method to recover employees’ data after losing crucial documents when a fire razed the county’s finance office last month.

Hundreds of county workers have been queuing at various points to collect their cheques. The exercise has been disrupted several times as the workers struggle to identify their pay points.

At Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, medical workers jostled to get cleared. However, they were not happy that the government was only paying January salaries; they were also demanding February salaries as the month ends this week.

“The government has spent a lot of public money to conduct headcounts. It has made huge investments in electronic systems that we hoped would be used to verify employee details instead of forcing us to queue to collect our cheques,” said one of the workers who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal.

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A report sponsored by the county government last year indicated that some of the individuals who had been drawing salaries from the administration had resigned, retired or died. But the county government is yet to release reports of the previous two headcounts

Yesterday, workers were seen in long queues awaiting their turn to present their details and collect their cheques.

At the county headquarters, some departments were yet to start issuing the cheques hours after workers started queuing. Some of the cheques were said to be missing.

Fake documents

Some workers claimed the verification process was not watertight and that there was a possibility ghost employees would still sneak in fake documents, including appointment letters, and get paid.

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“The exercise is questionable because even those verifying the documents are just junior officers who have no expertise to confirm whether documents are authentic or not,” said another employee.

Deputy Governor Mathew Owili defended the exercise but admitted there are gaps ghost workers could exploit.

“All employees must appear in person because after the exercise, we’ll assume those who will not have shown up are ghost workers and we’ll strike them off the payroll,” he said.

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Governor Anyang Nyong’oJaramogi Oginga Odinga Referral HospitalHealthKisumu