The Taita-Taveta County government has commenced the process of evicting 69 nurses from government staff quarters following the lapse of a two-week vacate notice.
The nurses are part of over 400 medical workers who have been on strike since December 2020.
On Wednesday morning, a contingent of county enforcement officers descended on the complex that houses medical staff and their families and embarked on the eviction exercise.
The teams moved from house to house throwing out household items from the quarters.
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During the operation, the officers ensured that the vacated houses were inaccessible by putting on padlocks. They also ensured that houses whose owners were away were inaccessible.
A similar operation was undertaken simultaneously in Voi, Mwatate, Wundanyi and Taveta sub-counties.
In Voi, the evicted medical staff were stranded as they frantically made plans to move into new residences. A nurse who was evicted termed the operation brutal.
“There was not even an eviction notice. They just arrived and ordered us out,” said the nurse under the promise of anonymity.
The county government in a rebuttal however said it had given the medical workers adequate time to seek alternative accommodation.
When contacted, the County Executive Committee Member for Health John Mwakima said the striking nurses had declined to appeal even after being interdicted and hence were requested to leave the government houses by February 5.
“Their grace period expired long ago. We need to make room for the nurses we are currently hiring,” he said.
He disclosed that 20 nurses have already resumed work after their appeals against their sacking were approved. 15 more appeals are being looked into by the County Public Service Board (CPSB).
The CEC further urged the evicted nurses to file their appeals at the CPSB to argue out their cases and be considered for reinstatement.
“Their fate now rests with the board. Those willing to work should do their appeals. We need to restore normalcy in the health sector,” he said.
The nurses’ strike started in December 2020 and health services in the county have since been paralyzed with patients only receiving outpatient services.
Laboratory and consultation services are however still ongoing after doctors and lab workers called off their strike after negotiations.