'Ghost workers': Kenya biometric register launched

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
President Uhuru Kenyatta was the first civil servant to register

Kenya has started biometrically registering all civil servants in an attempt to remove "ghost workers" from the government's payroll.

Employees who failed to register over the next two weeks would no longer be paid, a government statement said.

The government suspects that thousands of people continue to receive salaries after leaving the civil service.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was the first person to register - he has pledged to curb corruption.

'Waste of time'

"It is in your best interest that you get registered lest you are counted as a ghost worker," he told civil servants in the coastal city of Mombasa.

An audit earlier this year found that at least $1m (£600,000) a month was lost in payments to "ghost workers", as well as other financial irregularities.

All public servants were required to present themselves over the next two weeks at identification centres to ensure their data was captured through the biometric registration exercise, a government statement said.

Anyone who failed to do so without a valid excuse would be eliminated from the payroll, it said.

At one centre in Nairobi, the BBC's Paul Nabiswa says officials were recording identity details, taking fingerprints and verifying educational qualifications before issuing civil servants with a slip as proof that they had been cleared.

He says reaction to the scheme has been mixed.

"This is a waste of time," Nairobi council worker Henry Okello told the BBC.

"People will not be working, they will be lining up up to the last day of the exercise. They know where we sit - why don't they come to count us physically?" he asked.