Ombudsman to open office in Meru to hear complaints

CAJ chairperson Florence Kajuju says there have been many complaints against public offices from region.

In Summary
  • Kajuju said the complaints we have been receiving from the four counties are overwhelming.
  • She said the commission has already advertised for office space.
Commission on Administrative Justice chairperson Florence Kajuju tours the Huduma Centre in Meru.
Commission on Administrative Justice chairperson Florence Kajuju tours the Huduma Centre in Meru.
Image: KNA

The Commission on Administrative Justice, or Ombudsman, is set to open an office in Meru that will serve Embu, Tharaka Nithi, Meru, and  parts of Isiolo counties.

Speaking on Tuesday during a visit to the Media Council of Kenya regional offices in Meru, CAJ chairperson Florence Kajuju said  there have been many complaints against  public offices from the counties and a nearer office will serve them better.

“The complaints we have been receiving from the four counties are overwhelming, and this has made us take immediate action which is opening an office in Meru. This will save them the agony of traveling all the way to Nairobi to raise the complaints there,” said Kajuju.

She said the commission has already advertised for office space and that those who own properties should apply.

“Once we receive applications, we will play our part in terms of carrying out the procurement process so that we can hopefully open the office before the end of this year,” said Kajuju.

On the issue of access to information especially from the county governments, the Ombudsman said the commission was already aware that some counties were not releasing information to the citizens despite the Access to the Information Act requiring them to do so.

“There should be proactive disclosure of information especially on issues of procurement and employment, and we expect the county governments to release that information to the citizens without any hindrances,” Kajuju said.

The commission has already taken the responsibility of training some county officers to make them understand that citizens are supposed to get information as and when they require it.

“We are also working with the county governments to be able to establish offices of the county government administrative ombudsman because we did a memorandum of understanding with the Council of Governors, which then allows the county government to establish these offices,” she said.

“Officers to hold the offices will be appointed by the county governments with the responsibility of managing complaints brought by citizens against the county governments in terms of service delivery. County information officers will then be able to answer queries to information the citizens seek.”

She added: “Much as we have realised there are challenges, we have a programme where we believe that by the end of this year, all these offices will be in place so that the information can flow.”

MCK Mount Kenya region coordinator Jackson Karanja said the meeting with the CAJ was meant to look at a memorandum of understanding that was signed in 2020 between the two entities to ensure journalists have access to information from public offices in order to inform the citizens.

He said the meeting gave them an opportunity to exchange ideas with the government Ombudsman, remembering that they work together to ensure journalists' right to access to information is guaranteed.

“The other day we celebrated 10 years of devolution but we still can see that it has not been easy for journalists to get the information they require from the county governments.

“We have also discussed how our office will work with the Commission on Administrative Justice to train public officers, County government officers as well as journalists on issues of access to information,” Karanja said.

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