Some Migori County residents have complained of slow service delivery, saying Governor Okoth Obado’s detention over murder has resulted in laxity.
Mr Obado is being held at Industrial Area Remand Prison in Nairobi County, amid investigations into the murder of 26-year-old Rongo University student Sharon Otieno, who was his girlfriend.
Residents who spoke to the Nation said offices other than those at public health facilities have been abandoned.
Workers have been making technical appearances, they claimed, citing the lands, accounts, roads and water departments as the most affected.
A spot check by the Nation found most of these offices being manned by clerical offices and in some cases, secretaries.
In various towns, garbage collectors seemed to have slowed down as heaps lay about.
“I have been frequenting the lands department for assistance but every time I visit the offices, I find no one to offer substantial services. I am usually told by secretaries to come back the following day,” a resident said.
Another said: “Since the day the governor was linked to the murder, people are rarely in offices. Many officials do not report so residents are feeling the pinch.”
Sources say some county employees, who are sympathetic with the embattled governor, have pitched camp in Nairobi in a show of solidarity.
As Mr Obado was being arraigned last week, county executive committee members assured the public that operations would go on uninterrupted.
Lands, Physical Planning and Housing executive, Mr Elijah Odhiambo, who read a press statement on behalf of the cabinet last week, urged residents to remain calm as the judicial process continues.
“The cabinet of Migori would like to thank the people for remaining calm …,” he said. ” … government operations will continue uninterrupted. We request investigating agencies and the Judiciary to expedite the matter. We urge that this process should not be politicised,” he said.
Deputy Governor Nelson Mahanga Mwita has officially assumed the role of running the affairs of the county.
It is said that Mr Mwita is being assisted by County Secretary Christopher Rusana.
Sources, however, told the Nation that since the governor has the final say on funds and expenditure, Mr Mwita does not have absolute influence on county affairs.
It has been said that campaigns for next Monday’s senator by-election have also affected service delivery since many of the workers have been involved.
Migori staff are divided when it comes to key candidates, with some supporting Ochilo Ayacko of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and others backing Mr Obado’s choice, Eddy Oketch.
Despite the charges he is facing, Mr Obado’s shadow has featured in the senator race.
Before his woes started, he vehemently opposed ODM’s move to hand Mr Ayacko a direct ticket, terming it undemocratic.
He had vowed to campaign against the candidate and had initially supported former Rongo Member of Parliament Dalmas Otieno.
Mr Odieno withdrew from the race to take up a job at the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
The county quelled public concern about poor services in Mr Obado’s absence.
Reached for comment, county government spokesman Nicholas Anyuor assured the public that government services will not be interrupted.
Mr Odhiambo told the Nation that the county government is operating normally.
“All the offices are operating and there is no laxity as has been reported. All the chief officers in ministries report for duty daily,” he said, adding there is no cause for alarm. “People are in office … even the deputy governor, who is acting as the head of the executive.”
His views were echoed by Water executive Rebecca Maroa, who said: “The situation is not as has been alleged. All is fine and business is as usual.”
Mr Obado was arraigned last Monday after spending three days at Gigiri police station following his arrest.
On Thursday that week, he was denied bail and an order was issued for him to spend 10 days at Industrial Area Remand Prison ahead of arraignment on October 8.
By Daily Nation