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January 21, 2019

Senate summons Kenya Railways, labour CS over alleged mistreatment of SGR employees

Police officers are seen manning the entrance of the first class couch of the SGR train at the SGR Mombasa Terminus. Photo/Monicah Mwangi
Police officers are seen manning the entrance of the first class couch of the SGR train at the SGR Mombasa Terminus. Photo/Monicah Mwangi

The Senate has summoned Kenya Railways management to explain alleged mistreatment of Kenyan employees at the SGR.

Others to be grilled are Labour CS Ukur Yattani and his transport counterpart James Macharia.

They will appear before the Johnson Sakaja led Labor and Social Welfare Committee.

The senators further agreed that Attorney General Paul Kihara who approves government contracts be summoned to explain under what terms is the Chinese owned company CRBC operating the SGR.

These resolutions came amid heated debate on the welfare of Kenyan employees at the SGR.

Among the key issues, the committee is expected to investigate are racism, violation of rights and freedoms, terms and conditions of Chinese employees vs Kenyan employees and the role of Kenya Railways in the management of the SGR.

Read: Atwoli demands deployment of SGR workers after expose' on 'mistreatment'

 Other matters to be interrogated include the contractual agreements between CRBC and Kenya government, the status of operations and transfer of skills and the law governing the implementation of the project.

"Speaker we cannot be sitting here when Kenyans are being treated as lesser human beings in their own country. Our people cannot serve as second class in the country of their origin," Sakaja said.

He said it is unfortunate that a Kenyan employee can be fired for doing something a Chinese employee is allowed to do.

His Makueni counterpart Mutula Kilonzo said some of the workers should also be allowed to come and share their experiences without prejudice or victimization.

"Speaker SGR is not a favour to warrant such treatment to our citizens, we must not allow such discrimination to happen on Kenyan soil by a foreigner. It has come to our attention that even the employees have been forced to sign a secret code not allowing them to post any negative article on their social media about the SGR," Mutula said.

"How can it be that Chinese nationals are given more priority on a project being paid by Kenyan money. Work permits are supposed to be issued for works that Kenyans cannot do and not manning gates and driving graders and shovers," he said.

Senator Margaret Kamar in support said it is unfortunate the Chinese contractors have an access to clean water, electricity and other amenities yet regard Kenyans as lesser beings.

Bungoma senator Moses Wetangula said a Public inquiry into the matter should immediately be called.

He said the money being paid to finance the operations begs several questions and thus an explanation needs to be done on why the loan is being paid immediately contrary to what was communicated.

'We have an Sh5 trillion public debt which is unmanageable. Central bank governor has issued two red alarms over governments over borrowing, we have as a country burst the ceiling and our citizens cannot again be treated like that," he said.

Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura said Kenyan citizens have been subjected to such treatment as a result of the effects of Chinese loans taken by the government.

"This is a new form of colonization and with this trend Mr speaker we shall be forced to hand over the Port of Mombasa and the JKIA due to huge debts. We are selling our national heritage and history will judge us harshly," Mwaura said.

Also read; Your work ethic is to blame, Kiraithe tells SGR workers on mistreatment claims

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