Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and a group of youths on Wednesday stormed a doctors’ meeting and reportedly roughed up union officials.
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary-General Ouma Olunga, Chairman Samuel Oroko, South Rift Secretary-General Davji Atela and county union representatives were among the 15 officials at the meeting.
Radio reporters Hillary Mutai of Kass FM and Isaiah Kiplangat of Kongasis FM, who attempted to take pictures, also said they were manhandled.
Dr Olunga said the governor stormed into the meeting at Fair Hill Hotel with about 30 youths and roughed up the union officials.
He, however, vowed that intimidation would not scare the doctors into abandoning the national strike.
“At one stage, the governor took out his gun but we remained calm,” he said.
The governor, however, claimed he was not aware of the meeting. He said he was at the hotel to meet Narok West MP Patrick Ntutu.
“I wanted him to convey my messages of condolence to families who lost relatives in Emurua Dikirr constituency during the recent clashes between the Kipsigis and Maasai,” he said.
He denied claims that he pointed a gun at the doctors, saying they were “nonsense”.
“I have never been issued with a licence for a gun,” he said.
“I only requested to have a word with the secretary-general when I heard that they were meeting at the hotel but he refused to talk to me. That’s all,” he said.
The governor said the national officials have been threatening health workers’ representatives in the region to join the strike without success.
He said the threats had not been taken lightly and security had been boosted at all health facilities.
“Doctors in my government are in a higher job group than those employed by the national government or other counties and that is why they ignored the strike call. They have become the envy of the national union officials,” the governor said.
Asked why some county doctors had attended the meeting if they were not on strike, medical services chief Bernard Sowek said they were on duty but on a go-slow.
He said disciplinary action had been taken against them.
Dr Sowek also maintained that national union officials were threatening doctors in the region.
Last week, he said, the county government signed a recognition collective bargaining agreement with representatives of doctors and nurses.
He said doctors were awarded a 15 per cent increase while nurses got 7 per cent and other health care workers 10 per cent.
He said as a result, Bomet was becoming the envy of health workers countrywide who felt their counties should emulate it.
KMPDU Bomet representative Erick Kibet said he was not aware the national officials were coming.
“They were probably here to eject us from work but we will continue offering our services … it’s business as usual,” he said.
The proprietor of the hotel, a Mr Kirui, said he had not been aware there was a meeting going on. He said he welcomed the officials just like any other guest.