Nairobi governor Johnson Sakaja has announced plans to launch new biometric system cards that will be used to weed out ghost workers at City Hall.
Mr Sakaja has said the new staff identification cards will have special features that can be scanned by city residents to confirm that the officer works for the county government.
“The cards will have special features including a USSD query system. Once you scan and get a negative response, the trader being harassed can contact the county government customer care or report to the nearest police station” Mr Sakaja said.
He has also indicated the launch of the biometric system is in line with his plans of streamlining operations within the county.
“We want to have a city of order. Extortion and corruption among staff members must stop and service delivery must prevail within our county,” he added.
Mr Sakaja did not however indicate how different the system is from similar systems that have been launched by previous administrations in the city county government.
The issue of ghost workers who often pose as county staff has been a pain in the neck of previous administrations in Nairobi City County.
In 2020 for instance, the Director General of the defunct Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) Mohammed Badi launched a similar exercise in a bid to weed out ghost workers and imposters in city hall. The exercise targeted 6,852 employees who were transferred from city hall to NMS.
In 2018, former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko also launched a similar biometric system that required the county staff to have badges, and staff cards as well as the use of fingerprints to access city hall offices. The previous administration of former governor Evans Kidero also launched a similar system.
Despite the efforts, the number of ghost workers is still increasing in city hall and several other counties across the country.
Huge wage bill
Ghost workers contribute to a huge wage bill in the county government. A previous audit revealed that the county government pays more than Sh100 million every month in salaries to more than 2,000 ghost workers.
The audit also indicated that some of the city hall workers appear on the payroll up to five times using different names and identity card numbers. Other retired or deceased employees also appear on the payroll.
A recent investigation revealed that county governments in Kenya have lost more than Sh35 billion to ghost workers over the years.