Recovering alcoholics in Kiambu County protest over delayed pay

Wednesday August 1 2018

alcoholics

Recovering alcoholics demonstrate how illicit brew chang'aa is made, in Gatundu North, Kiambu County, on February 15, 2018. A programme in which the Kiambu County government has been paying recovering alcoholics Sh400 daily has been hit by a cash crunch. PHOTO | FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ERIC WAINAINA
By ERIC WAINAINA
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A programme in which the Kiambu County government has been paying recovering alcoholics Sh400 daily has been hit by a cash crunch.

The county government now owes the beneficiaries Sh40 million in arrears.

Some 5,000 beneficiaries of the controversial programme, dubbed “Kaa Sober”, have been getting Sh2 million daily after doing menial work such as collecting garbage, clearing bushes on the roadsides and unblocking drainages.

However, the county government has not paid them for the last 20 days and each of them is now demanding Sh8,000, which totals to Sh40 million.

In some wards, the youths have downed their tools and vowed not to resume work until their dues are paid, saying their pursuit for answers has been futile.

SOURCE OF INCOME

Ms Feristas Wanjiru from Kamburu ward in Lari, who is part of the programme, said the last time they received the cash was on July 3.

Ms Wanjiru, who before joining the programme was a waitress at a local bar, said despite non-payment, they continued to perform their duties until last Friday.

“We are not ready to go back to work unless we get our dues. This has been our only source of income since we quit out previous jobs. How do they expect us to continue working without pay? How do they expect us to survive?” asked the mother of two.

Mr Harun Mbugua, also from Kamburu, and who previously worked as a mason, said currently he owes shopkeepers close to Sh5,000 because he has been forced to buy foodstuffs on credit.

MCAs who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals said the situation is similar in all wards and they are apprehensive that unless the matter is sorted out quickly, the youths might engage in criminal activities in order to survive.

DEMAND DUES
The circumstances, said the MCAs, had made their lives miserable since the beneficiaries have been camping outside their homes and offices to demand their dues.

The County Executive Committee member for Finance Mburu Kang’ethe on Tuesday confirmed the delayed payment, but blamed it on government policies during the transition from one financial year to another, which he said affects government expenditure.

“We have just closed a financial year, and we are starting a new one and all the systems have been stopped by the Treasury. It has been common practice that anything that has not been paid on or before June 29 is stopped until the new budgets and work plans are uploaded in the system,” said Mr Mburu.

County leaders, among them Senator Kimani Wamatangi, Woman Representative Gathoni wa Muchomba and a section of MPs, have been questioning the programme’s transparency and sustainability.