• They said the ministry has been allocated Sh60 million in the current financial year to build safe houses in Saudi Arabia.
• This amount, they said, is not enough for one structure to evacuate distressed Kenyans in Saudi Arabia.
The Labour ministry has revealed the challenges it faces in protecting Kenyans working in Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries.
Labour CS Florence Bore and PS Peter Tum said insufficient budget, lack of enabling legislation and inadequate labour personnel are hindering efforts to protect the lot.
Appearing before the Senate’s Labour and Social Welfare Committee on Wednesday, they said the ministry has been allocated Sh60 million in the current financial year to build safe houses in Saudi Arabia.
This amount, they said, is not enough for one structure to evacuate distressed Kenyans in Saudi Arabia.
About 210,000 Kenyans are currently working in Saudi Arabia.
“This ministry is underfunded, we require more safe houses in cities across Saudi,” CS Bore told the committee chaired by West Pokot Senator Julius Murgor.
The duo had been summoned to the panel to explain the ministry’s interventions to protect and safeguard Kenyans working abroad.
This comes in the wake of reports of increased cases of torture of Kenyans working as domestic workers in Middle East countries.
Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua had sought a statement on the plight of migrant Kenyans overseas.
The CS said the ministry has only one labour attachee each in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates– a number too small to handle all Kenyans there.
“We have one labour attachee in Saudi and one in Qatar. We want a management system that can track the labourers,” the CS said.
The senators pushed the officials to state specific interventions to protect Kenyans working abroad.
“Give us specifics of what the ministry is doing to address the abuse of labourers. How is the ministry tracking Kenyan immigrant workers all over?” Wambua posed.
PS Tum said they have set up a multi-agency team to look into rogue recruitment agencies.
“We have put together a budget proposal that has been forwarded to the Treasury. We require another three labour attachees. We endeavour to engage the labour minister in Saudi,” Tum said.
“We are hitting the reset button. We will focus on the budget, and by January we will be having answers,” he added.
The PS said the ministry has finalised the drafting of Labour Management Bill, 2022 to provide a legal framework for the management of labour migration.
“The object of this bill is to promote safe, ethical and orderly recruitment of workers, safeguard the rights and promote the welfare of migrant workers,” he said.
The draft bill has been forwarded to the Attorney General for legal drafting.
In addition, the ministry has finalised the drafting of the National Labour Migration Policy to provide a framework for inclusive and sustainable development of the country through safe, orderly and productive labour migration.
“The policy outlines strategies whose implementation will enhance the protection of Kenyan migrant workers,” he said.
Tum held that the policy and the bill have taken into consideration the involvement of non-state actors in dealing with the issue.
The government, through the Labour ministry, has also signed four bilateral labour agreements with the governments of Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
The government has also developed agreements with other six nations-the UK for all other categories of workers, Poland, Oman, Jordan, Bahrain and Australia.