The birth of the new 2010 constitution brought with it hope for a better Kenya. Devolution was seen to be the solution to the rampant corruption, unemployment and nepotism experienced in the national government. One sector where there was so much hope was the health sector. It was believed that counties would bring health services closer to the people and employ more medical personnel.
Fast forward, almost a decade after the promulgation of the 2010 constitution, things have gotten from bad to worse. The new constitution devolved all these ills to the counties.
254News, has been receiving cases of medical professionals being asked by members of County Public Service Boards (CPSB) to give huge sums of money and even sex in exchange for employment on contract/locum basis. These allegations have spanned many counties across the country.
Our investigations led us to Kisumu County, one of the counties piloting the government’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda, from where we have received most complains. The county recently advertised and interviewed for various positions in the health department including nurses, pharmaceutical technologists, clinical officers among others. We closely monitored the whole process and can authoritatively report that there are insiders at the Kisumu County Public Service Board that have access to the details of shortlisted applicants who attended the interview and they are using these details to solicit for bribes to offer employment. This all begun from the stage of advertisement. Applicants reported being asked to pay as high as Ksh 45,000 in order to be shortlisted for interviews. Those who claimed to have no money say they were never called for interviews.
The interviews were done some time back and the list of the successful candidates and their letters made ready. But this presented another opportunity for these sex predators and corrupt fellows to demand for more. One man has notoriously been calling each shortlisted candidate, threatening that if he doesn’t receive money then the candidate will not get the employment. This person sends messages using the phone number +254731130906. The number is registered to one Beryl Akinyi.
One of the young men shortlisted for the position of pharmaceutical technologist (name withheld) fell for the trick. He was asked to pay 40,000/- and after negotiations and pleadings, he sent Ksh 10,000 yesterday morning. Below is the Mpesa message;
_NJF89SR3DS Confirmed. Ksh10,000.00 sent to GEORGE OWIRA OGOLA 0720435331 on 15/10/19 at 10:31 AM. New M-PESA balance is…_
Those, like the above pharm tech, who have sent money shortly afterwards received a message asking them to collect their letters from the CPSB office. Such was the case also before the interviews where one had to pay to be invited for interviews. Below was the message sent for invitation for the interviews;
_You are invited for interview for Pharmaceutical Tech. on 27-08-2019 @ X:YZ am at public service board offices,Milimani, Okore Road. Carry ID, certs, licence, testimonials & clearances. Check more details at www.kisumu.go.ke. Beryl_
Below is the message sent to those who paid to be employed on locum basis;
_Good morning. I refer to the interview you did with the Board in which you were successful. Please come for your appointment letter at the Public Service Board Milimani, Okore Road before 18/10/19. Congratulations! Beryl, KCPSB._
The message is sent from the same number that invited the candidates for the interviews (0731130906)
A nurse applicant was called and asked for ksh30,000 but insisted she had no money. She was asked to meet someone at Joventure Hotel one evening so that they can “sort out” her issue. It turned out she was expected to give herself to this man, a thing she declined and ran off.
Yet another was asked to pay 20k, after “discount” but couldn’t raise the amount.
These young people who refused or couldn’t raise the bribes haven’t received any feedback or letter. Instead, the conman threatened to give the vacancies to other people because “there are many people on the waiting list and are desperate for the job”.
Yet another lady nurse was called and asked to send 45k for a permanent and pensionable job. The vacancies that had been advertised were for locum jobs.
It is clear that the conman is within the Board and has access to the files and documents. The tricky part of it all is that the conman is being protected by some police officers at Central Police Station and some powerful people at the county headquarters who are benefiting from the monies he is collecting. It is not the first time he is doing this as some health workers within the county who spoke to 254News on condition of anonymity confirmed to us that they too had gone through the same ordeal. For example, we were informed that the same happened some time last year and the George Owira Ogola was arrested but later released under mysterious circumstances.
It has become apparent that Beryl works with George Ogola in demanding and receiving the monies. When confronted about this on phone, she did not respond but instead ended the call.
The monies are said to run into huge amounts when the county advertises for positions of medical officers, pharmacists and dentists. So huge are the amounts that some claim to have used over Ksh 250,000 for “lobbying” during the process in order to land a job with the county.
This is not just an isolated case of Kisumu county. We met one young doctor who did her internship in Nairobi county. She confided in us that she has had to go through the same ordeal.
“What I do is look for fellow women. That way I can use money without being asked for sex on top. Let’s just say it’s a bit easier that way”, she said.
The young doctors graduating from medical school have reported being advised by their senior colleagues in employment that they need to save half of the money they earn during their 1 year internship to be used to lobby for employment. It seems this has been normalized and sanitized as the new way of doing things.
254News has also received cases indicating that some of these young doctors have to part with 30,000/- from their salaries every month. These monies are sent to some county government officers in order to keep these doctors employed. They live under the threat that if they fail to remit the money, they will be sacked. These young doctors say that they do this because it is better than staying unemployed.
Meanwhile, the doctors’ union among other unions have remained tight lipped over this turn of events. The union claims it cannot respond to individual issues and that those seeking employment should lobby with their county governments. What they fail to tell the young doctors and interns is that this lobby means bribing members of the CPSB with money and sex, an act they are sanctioning. Any attempts to have the union address these issues have been met with coldness and arrogance.
The young doctors now blame the union for using them then throwing them under the bus during the CBA negotiations. They claim the union used the issue of poor doctor:patient ratio during the 2016/17 strike but never addressed it while negotiating for the CBA.
“The union leaders negotiated for their pay and abandoned all other issues. Tell me, how has the CBA improved health services 2 years down the line after its signing? How did the CBA address the issue of low doctor:populations ratio? It was just more money they were looking for”, posed one unemployed doctor.
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