Laikipia County government has laid off 176 workers in an effort to trim its ballooning wage bill that stands at 58 per cent.
In a press statement on Wednesday, acting County Secretary Karanja Njora said the devolved unit's top leadership risked being jailed for failing to comply with the Public Finance Management Act 2012 which stipulates a wage bill ceiling of 35 per cent.
Mr Njora said the County Public Service Board (CPSB) had issued a general redundancy notice to all staff, labour office and labour unions on January 8, 2020.
“To this effect, the board has identified 176 employees whose positions will no longer be tenable; employees occupying them are not gainfully engaged,” Mr Njora said.
“The process of identifying these employees was conducted in accordance to the law, the principle of fairness and in a humane manner. The [affected] staff will be trained, counselled and given a good send-off package to facilitate them to begin a new life,” he added.
The axed workers are part of 3,179 workers drawn from 32 of the country’s ethnic communities. The county spends Sh190.8 million on salaries per month.
CPSB conducted a staff audit exercise in Nanyuki, Rumuruti, Nyahururu and Doldol towns between June 24 and August 17 last year.
“The audit revealed that some employees are not gainfully engaged, meaning that they earn a salary but there is no way of justifying what they do,” Mr Njora said.
CPSB chairperson Mumbi Mwago said that during the audit, three medical doctors were out of the country for training and could not be enjoined in the list of ghost workers.
“Failure for some members of staff to appear for audit simply meant that they are ghost workers and do not deserve to be on payroll,” she said.
During the audit, staff were required to present themselves physically to the board carrying their academic papers.
Governor Ndiritu Muriithi’s administration comprises 2,000 female workers and 1,179 male staff.
The report revealed that 254 workers did not have any academic papers. Out of this number, the Water department had 150 workers followed by Health and Administration departments which had 49 and 31 workers without academic certificates.
The departments of Infrastructure, Trade and Agriculture had two, three and five workers aged between 20 and 24 years.
The county has 1,167 casual workers and 1,593 staff hired on permanent and pensionable terms. Mr Muriithi said the Executive and County Assembly were keen on tracking down ghost workers.
“Now that we have this audit report out, we will be able to know who is working and who is not. We will remove both ghost and idle workers,” Mr Muriithi said last month after a Cabinet meeting.
“It is our wish to pay our workers properly through promotions. But the main problem is that we have a huge number of staff. Let us try to achieve more savings and channel it towards development,” he added.
The county government has been streamlining its operations through an integrated county management system where staff fill weekly time sheets of their work based on approved work plans.
Last year, the governor sacked 62 doctors who had gone on a three-week strike.