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November 21, 2018

Sonko’s random dismissals and office closures hurt operations

Closed entrance to Treasury department and Right, Governor Mike Sonko /JULIUS OTIENO
Closed entrance to Treasury department and Right, Governor Mike Sonko /JULIUS OTIENO
Some MCAs and residents have expressed outrage over the closure of crucial offices at City Hall.
Several offices have been closed -  some for 10 months now - after Governor Mike Sonko sent their holders home over corruption allegations.
Some officers, though not suspended, have been locked out of their offices to give way for investigations. Some departments have also been hit by a staff shortage because of the random dismissals.
So far, more than 300 employees have been suspended since Sonko took over at City Hall in August last year.
Finance, legal, procurement, rates, land, planning are some of the worst hit departments.
MCAs said their operations have been affected by the closure of the offices and staff dismissals. They said there are no officers to respond to statements or provide information.
On Wednesday, members of the Budget committee lamented the ‘lack’ of offices to provide documents to appear before them to respond to queries.
The committee had invited acting Finance officer Ekaya Alumasi to explain how the Sh357 million meant for children’s bursary found its way in the Maryland University account.
Chairman Robert Mbatia, who is also Kariobangi South MCA, said the committee had invited Alumasi, but he had been suspended and his office locked. Junior officers in the department could access the office.
“We are disturbed by what is happening because I have never seen any where in the world where a public office has been physically closed. This means that even the public cannot get services,” Embakasi MCA Michael Ogada, who is a member of the committee, said.
A Jubilee MCA who did not want to named said all the three committees he sits in – Legal, Budget and and Public Accounts – have been affected by the closure of the offices.
“We need about 10 reports from the Executive but we can only follow this issue up to a certain level, otherwise, you will find yourself out of committees. Things are not moving at all and the speaker is on our neck to table all pending statements before we go on recess next week,” he said.
Chairs of various sectoral committees have often complained in the chamber about the delays by the Executive to respond to queries raised by MCAs.
MCAs usually request for statements, for instance, concerning status of road projects in their wards, through relevant committees. The committees then write to the executive for response.
Speaker Beatrice Elachi said she had not received any complaint from the committees about the closure of the offices or lack of officers to provide information.
On Wednesday, resident Calvin Mkange was frustrated after he found several offices in the planning department closed. He had submitted construction documents for approval and wanted to know the progress.
The governor’s communication director Elkana Jacob described as  propaganda claims that MCAs and been denied access to the offices.
“Offices are open. Those who are not allowed to access the offices are the officers who were suspended,” he said. But a spot check by the Star showed the office of the chief finance officer was locked.
On Wednesday, Sonko suspended Health executive Hitan Majevdia and director Tom Ogaro for alleged incompetence. Two days earlier, he sent home Alumasi [acting finance chief officer], chief of staff Brian Mugo and head of county treasury Stephen Mutua for allegedly misusing funds.

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