Kenya: Revenue Stalemate - Services Stop in Counties

18 September 2020

A host of counties on Thursday stopped offering non-essential services, with signals of an even bigger crisis after county assemblies said they would follow suit and shut down from next week if money is not released.

The Council of Governors (CoG) on Wednesday ordered counties to shut down their operations following a biting cash crunch that has seen workers go without pay for three months.

Covid-19 allowances

In Embu, the county referral hospital was a ghost health facility after medics withdrew their services over delayed salaries and non-payment of Covid-19 allowances.

Area branch Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary Joseph Ngwasi said no amount of intimidation will make the workers call off the strike that has paralysed services in the entire public health sector.

In Murang'a, dairy farmers are going without the free artificial insemination programme, which now has seen breeders resort to using ungraded bulls to serve their heifers, compromising future stock quality.

Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi said the county will rely on its own revenue to finance only critical health services.

40 health workers

In Trans Nzoia, more than 40 health workers in the Mt Elgon Hospital Covid-19 isolation centre went on strike yesterday, demanding personal protective equipment (PPE) and allowances, threatening the fight against the pandemic.

Baringo health workers issued a 14-day strike notice with services in Baringo, Eldama Ravine, Marigat, Chemolingot and Kabartonjo hospitals, paralysed.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui will chair a Cabinet meeting today, with services at Nakuru Level Five, Elburgon, Sachangwan, Njoro, Kiptangwany, Gilgil and Bahati health facilities continuing uninterrupted.

Malindi Hospital head Evans Ogeto said patients will be turned away and those admitted there referred to private hospitals in the event of a shut down. "Special arrangement shall only be done for drug recovery addicts using methadone and HIV and Aids medication to avoid them being disadvantaged in case of a shut down," he added.

But many county governments ignored the CoG order and continued offering services as usual.

Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Mandera, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Mombasa and Elgeyo-Marakwet are some of the counties where staff reported to work as usual.

Workers ignored calls

"We're still monitoring the situation because things might change and that is why all county employees have reported to work today unless the governor says otherwise," said Governor Jackson Mandago's Director of Communication Silas Tarus.

In Nandi, more than 5,100 workers ignored calls by the CoG and reported to duty.

Operations in Elgeyo Marakwet County were running smoothly yesterday, with officials saying no service will be affected.

In Kirinyaga, all departments continued with work, but Governor Anne Waiguru said the county was in a financial crisis due to the Senate stalemate.

Reporting by Anthony Kitimo, George Munene, Mercy Mwende, Regina Kinogu, Mwangi Muiruri, James Murimi, Charles Wanyoro, Onyango K'Onyango, Gerald Bwisa, Tom Matoke, Florah Koech, Evans Kipkura, Brian Ojamaa, Eric Matara, Fadhili Fredrick, Charles Lwanga and Wachira Mwangi

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