Trans Nzoia: Shame of county with over Sh1b dubious bills, 470 ghost workers

Trans-Nzoia Governor George Natembeya. Trans Nzoia County has over Sh1.1 billion in dubious claims as pending bills. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The county government of Trans Nzoia has over Sh1.1 billion in dubious claims as pending bills with 470 ghost workers, a report by a task force has revealed.

A report by the seven-member task force chaired by former Auditor General Dr Edward Ouko revealed foul play in the claims and staff payroll.

The Dr Ouko-led team ascertained that out of the Sh1.7 billion pending bills, only Sh551 million were eligible for payment while the remaining were dubious.

Dr Ouko, who released the report on Friday and handed it to governor George Natembeya, said only 33 per cent of the claims were genuine.

He disclosed that initially, at the time the task force assumed office, it was indicated that the pending bills amounted to Sh1.3 billion, but upon further probe, the amount was found to be higher.

Most of the purported county suppliers may hence end up not receiving a single penny from the county government, as it has been established their processes were irregular.

The report indicated that there were flawed procurement procedures as they were not supported by documentary evidence and neither were they monitored.

Further, there was no evidence of receipt of goods and services while the value for money could not be demonstrated.

In some instances, read the report in part, "supporting documents were fake and appeared to support the supply of 'air' instead of goods and services."

The department of health had the highest ineligible bills, standing at Sh439 million, followed by works and roads with Sh173 million.

Others were water and environment with Sh114 million ineligible bills while gender (Sh81m), sports and culture (Sh59m), education, and agriculture (Sh44m).

The findings on human resources also indicated that there were 470 ghost workers who received salaries from the county coffers, yet they were not employees of the county government.

"The task force's staff count revealed that out of 4,013 employees in the three county government payrolls (casual, manual, and IPPD), we were able to physically county 3,543 while 470 staff did not show up for headcount," the report notes.

As of 2016, the County Public Service management Report on Staff establishment placed optimal staffing levels at 8,924.

The report further says this was done without a proper workload analysis. The task force found there were 577 absentee employees as per the headcount done between September 19 and 22, last year.