The Ombudsman has released a damning report detailing the woes retirees grapple with in the processing of their pensions and other benefits.
According to the report by the Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) titled, Hata Mnyonge ana Haki - Sentenced to Poverty Upon Retirement, more than 70 per cent of retirees from the public service are unhappy with the services they receive in the processing and disbursement of their benefits.
“Accessing pensions has remained a perennial problem for retirees, with many of them compelled to make endless trips to pension offices in pursuit of what is rightfully theirs.
“This has been discouraging as many of them have passed on without receiving their benefits,” the report, which was launched in Eldoret on Thursday, says.
CAUSES OF AGONY
Commission chairperson Otiende Amollo, who presided over the launch, cited missing files, poor records management and delays by employers to submit relevant documents to the Pension’s Department as some of the major causes of the retirees’ agony.
Inefficient and corrupt officers and lack of transparency in calculating benefits are to blame for the trend, the report says.
Dr Amollo said the commission received 96,000 complaints in 2014, compared to 11,800 in 2013.
“The thousands of complaints on the subject are but only representative of many others that go unreported.
It is on this premise that the commission opted to carry out a systemic investigation to focus on the root causes,” he said
The Ombudsman recommended an overhaul of the pension system to ease the long-running pain for pensioners, adding that delays of up to 10 years were unacceptable.
“Those who have committed most of their productive years to serving our country and our people are being subjected to endless pursuits when they should be left to enjoy their sunset years,” reads a section of the 50-page report.
Dr Amollo, who was accompanied by CAJ commissioners, cited as an example the case of a Court of Appeal judge, who has yet to get his benefits since he retired in 2014.
The commission, he said, had also received complaints from former teachers and former Kenya Railways Corporation employees.
“We also established that of the 47 officers, who were massacred in a bandit attack in 2012 in Baragoi, only the families of four have been compensated.
“There is a need to reform the regulatory framework concerning pensions,” said Dr Amollo.
The investigation covered 24 counties and collected data from 852 respondents, with more information being obtained through focus group discussions with respondents.
The CAJ has now asked National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich to intervene and oversee a speedy release of unpaid benefits at the Pensions Departments.
“The Pension’s Department should, with immediate effect, address the systemic factors affecting the processing and payment of benefits and deal with human factors, including corruption, lazy and rude officers not willing to serve and a bad attitude among officers,” said Dr Amollo.
The CAJ has also recommended that the Pensions Department devolve its offices to the counties and creates an effective channel for complaints.