NAIROBI, August 14 – Kenyans can now formally lodge complaints against public officers and institutions following the launch of the Ombudsman office by Prime Minister (PM) Raila Odinga Thursday.
Speaking during the colourful launch at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, the PM said that the establishment of the office was a necessary first step towards ensuring administrative justice and efficient governance in the public sector.
“Other countries have already institutionalised Ombudsman offices to full capacity to counter maladministration, yet Kenya has for a long time lagged behind in addressing issues of maladministration. This cannot be allowed to continue.”
Odinga noted that until now, for most Kenyans, the only available recourse for redress had been the judiciary and the new Public Complaints Standing Committee (PCSC) would offer an alternative.
The office was established by President Mwai Kibaki in June 2007.
It was mandated to receive and take appropriate action on complaints against public officers in ministries, parastatals, statutory bodies or any other public institutions.
The PCSC inquires into allegations of misuse of office, corruption, unethical conduct, discourtesy, inattention, incompetence or ineptitude against the above intuitions.
Speaking at the launch Justice Minister Martha Karua informed that the office would report to the President on a quarterly basis.
“Although the office is formed under my ministry it doesn’t report to me. They publish quarterly reports on the number and nature of complaints received and the action taken,” Karua said.
Since its inception the committee has received 154 complaints against 40 public sector institutions from all provinces in the country.
Office Chairman Ambassador James Simani stated that Nairobi had the highest number of complaints, while Coast and Eastern Provinces attracted the least complaints.
By the end of June they had solved 31 percent of the complaints received.
He said the minimal number of complaints was largely as a result of lack of awareness of the existence of the Ombudsman office outside Nairobi.
Following the launch, Simani said that they would embark on a countrywide awareness campaigns.
“We hope members of the public will from now on know from where to obtain our services and make use of facilities which hitherto have not been readily available to them,” said Simani.
To lodge a complaint, one has to fill in a form which then can be hand delivered, faxed or emailed to the Ombudsman office in Nairobi.
In the complaint, one must include the name of public officer or institution complained about and a short description of the complaint.
Specific issues that the complainant wants the PCSC to inquire into should also be included.
Members serving in the Ombudsman office are Kenneth Mwige, who will be the Executive Director and Grace Madoka as the Vice Chair.
Others are Peter Karingu and Nafisa Abass.