On June 23, President Uhuru Kenyatta challenged the contractor of the Nairobi-Naivasha SGR line to stick to the completion timeline which is now at Ngong Station.
Saying he would like to use the SGR line next year on his way to Kajiado for Madaraka Day celebrations, Kenyatta was oblivious to the conditions workers are subjected to in meeting the deadlines.
Despite the highlighting of how Kenyans are mistreated in the course of their duty by the Chinese, the seeming abuse continues unabated despite many stories uncovering the untold stories from the railway construction.
We shall keep telling the truth to power. We shall not be distracted by keyboard warriors who did not even speak for Kenyans who are being discriminated in their own land. Thank you people for #IStandWithWafula Twisting the truth will never kill the story
— Paul Wafula (@paulwaf) July 17, 2018
The SGR rot expose by Wafula was to help Kenyan authorities deal with the Issues raised by aggrieved Kenyans.Wafula did a job that govt agencies would have done but now they have come for him. Why is he bn victimized? For bn TRUTHFUL and exposing the rot? #IStandWithWafula
— Raila Junior Odinga (@Railajunior) July 17, 2018
The Chinese’ mischief of mistreating Kenyan workers under the SGR mega project has met stiff criticism from Kenyans on social media after a report published by the standard highlighted the double standards for the different workers.
Even after the Kenyan government promised to investigate the matter, things have not changed a bit at the Ngong Station. This site is still under construction for the SGR Phase 2 project which the president says he would want to be completed by the June 2019 completion timeline.
Speaking with some Kenyan workers who requested anonymity due to fear of victimisation and probably losing their job, the experiences are heart-breaking as the treatment is what can be termed as the new colonialism.
For the Kenyan worker, a day starts at 7.30am. All employees are required to be on site at the time and they work till 6.30pm. There is no overtime pay for the weekdays with the workers clocking 12 hours daily. Things are not any different for night shifts since the employees work through the night till 7AM.
In Kenya, labour laws are flouted with such abandon such that those who are condemned to have masters have no option but to toil since they have no means of getting justice if they cannot afford to lose the oppressive jobs.
Averaging Sh30,000 pay which might sound good to many jobless youths, this money is the real sweat and blood that the SGR is built on.
At the Ngong Station, Kenyans have been denied access to the heavily guarded Chinese only cafeteria. The cafeteria is guarded by two Kenya police officers to ensure no African sneaks into the hotel.
Workers, therefore, have to source food from ‘vibandas’ which are rare in the area due to its remoteness.
“The Chinese are inhumane here. We work for close to 12 hours a day which is obviously tiresome. When it is lunchtime, you cannot even purchase food from their cafeteria. It is meant for Chinese workers only,” said one worker.
While the SGR has been hailed as the gateway to immense opportunities in Kenya’s untapped zones, it seems that workers’ rights-especially, if they are Kenyan, do not matter.
The Chinese have been accused of racially segregating Kenyans with Kenya’s immigration department giving conflicting reports over the numbers of foreigners working jobs Kenyans can comfortably do.
Last week, the Chinese ambassador to Kenya, Sun Baohong, admitted that there is a conflict between Kenyan workers and their Chinese counterparts. She, however, explained that some of the things taken as mistreatment are part of “Chinese culture.”
Baohong defended Chinese companies doing business in Kenya and the rising debt to China saying the partnership between China and Kenya will continue.
The Ministry of Labour has been accused of reluctance to act on cases touching on poor working conditions for Kenyans in many Chinese firms.
Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli says that all efforts to get to the truth have been dismissed as a threat that would scare away investors.