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Nairobi County plans to replace elderly employees with energetic youth

Nairobi City Hall. [Fila, Standard]

The Nairobi County Assembly has initiated a move to replace old employees with young, energetic staff through a voluntary retirement process.

A report tabled in the county assembly shows out of the estimated 14,000-strong Executive workforce, 60 per cent are aged between 50 to 60 years, with an average of 651 officers retiring annually.

“In order for the County to deliver, it requires energetic people. Some of the workers we have in some sectors worked in the defunct city council, but at the moment we need people who are also conversant with technology,” said Umoja 1 Ward Representative Mark Mugambi.

Mugambi used his Umoja 1 ward as an example, which he said has less than ten County staff working under the environment sector in the whole ward, and who are tasked with back-breaking jobs including unclogging drainage systems.

More worrying, he said, is that with the aged workforce, a further 25 per cent have been slowed down by ill health, alcohol addiction and cases of absconding duty.

For this reason, the member said there is need to facilitate their retirement benefits and encourage a dignified early retirement. According to findings of the report, 550 County employees retired in 2020 and 535 others in 2021.

This year, it is reported that 682 have already retired and in 2023, some 950 employees are expected to exit.

The motion to expedite voluntary retirement received a nod from the Assembly, setting the stage for the County Public Service Board to advise the Executive accordingly.

In support of the proposal, Assembly Majority Leader Peter Imwatok said it was worrying that some of the County staff are too old and frail to carry out energy-intensive tasks.

“The Human Resource department and administration should know at what time certain employees have the energy to serve at certain departments,” he said.

Imwatok noted that a previous workforce audit revealed the County was insuring about 2,000 non-existent employees.

Meanwhile, the plight of aging county employees was considered in the Sh38 billion development budget that was passed in the Assembly on November 10.

The Finance Committee, chaired by Wilfred Odalo, noted that staff dismissal would be undertaken according to the law and that remaining staff would be facilitated with necessary working tools.

“The Committee has noted that there are a number of initiatives aimed and boosting staff morale including introduction of voluntary early retirement, car loans and mortgage, and allocations for purchase of staff uniforms," said Odalo.

Ward representatives said staff targeted by the early retirement should be given psychosocial support so as to prepare them to lead meaningful lives afterwards.