Several patients in Tharaka-Nithi County were Wednesday left stranded after security guards locked up dispensaries in protest over non-payment of salaries.
The standoff, which involved other workers, crippled health services in the region as the employees resorted to the unorthodox means to push the county to pay their dues.
Patients arriving at Gaceeraka and Gitogoto dispensaries were turned away by health workers who also could not access the buildings which had been locked from outside with two huge padlocks.
The watchman at Gaceeraka Dispensary, Mr John Mutiiria, vowed not to open the facility until he is paid his money.
“I have never received a salary since the coming in of Governor Muthomi Njuki despite reporting to work every day,” said Mr Mutiiria.
He said he had grown tired of visiting the county headquarters at Kathwana to follow up on the matter.
“Any time I ask for payment, I am told to wait,” he said.
He said he decided to take the bold step out of frustration after his children in secondary schools were sent home for non-payment of fees.
Residents expressed disappointment with the county government and called for an immediate solution as they threatened to hold protests.
Mr John Mutiga, a watchman at Gakurungu Dispensary in Chiakariga ward, also told the Nation that he had not been paid for the last 14 months.
He said he had borrowed a loan from a bank and he was not able to repay.
“I am totally frustrated because I borrowed money and I cannot repay since the county does not pay me,” said Mr Mutiga.
A month ago, MCAs raised concerns over cries of hundreds of unpaid county employees.
The MCAs demanded answers from the executive, which they accused of intimidating workers by threatening to sack them whenever they asked for pay.
Mitheru MCA Charles Nyaga said two watchmen working at Nithi Cultural Centre had also not been paid since August 2017.
Magumoni MCA Justin Kithinji said casuals in all health facilities and youth polytechnics in his ward had not received a salary since the current government came into office.
“Health is the most affected department and I don’t know what its executive, Dr Gichuiyia Nthuraku, is doing,” said Mr Kithinji.
He said the assembly was waiting for a report on the matter from the executive.
LIST OF WORKERS
Deputy Governor Nyamu Kagwima told the Nation that he had asked all heads of department to submit a list of all workers demanding pay so that he could follow up with the County Public Service Board. Initially, Finance executive Dorothy Igoki had told the Nation that those complaining over non-payment were sacked following an audit months ago.
Her Education, Youth and Culture counterpart Abraham Maruta said he was aware of the case of the two employees working at Nithi Tourism Centre.