Another scam as parents, youth narrate 'overseas jobs' ordeal

First Choice Recruitment and Consultancy CEO, Judy Jepchirchir. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Emotional parents and their children narrated their ordeal in a botched overseas job initiative, which has since faced headwinds.

The jobs programme is the second suspicious initiative after the Uasin Gishu Finland saga. On Thursday, parents told of how they lost huge amounts of money to a recruitment agency – First Choice Recruitment and Consultancy, which allegedly collected millions of shillings to connect youth to jobs in Qatar.

The victims told the Senate Committee on Labour and Social Welfare how the agency promised thousands of youth jobs related to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The victims paid between Sh40,000 to Sh400,000 to secure jobs on contract terms in the Gulf, but were yet to travel, eight months after the World Cup ended.

Others told the committee chaired by West Pokot Senator Julius Murgor that they had been promised jobs in the United Kingdom and Poland after paying money.

The Senate committee heard that the recruitment agency amassed over Sh400 million from desperate youth who wanted to get jobs abroad.

Eliud Kipsang, who resigned from Kenya Ports Authority after he was promised a lucrative job as a cashier in Qatar, broke down severally as he narrated his experience.

He claimed that he watched the launch of the overseas job programme on TV and was convinced. “I was convinced that it was genuine because it was launched by a Cabinet Secretary, a governor, and a famous businessman from Nandi. I travelled from Mombasa to Eldoret to pay Sh40,000 for my jobless sister. I saw an opportunity for my sister to work after years of desperately looking for a job,” Kipsang claimed.

Parents before the Senate Committee on Labour and Social Welfare, August 17, 2023. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

He paid the money in May 2021 after persuading his 74-year-old mother to sell her only cow and was to start working in Qatar by mid-last year.

“On arrival at First Choice Recruitment and Consultancy offices in Eldoret town, I met the CEO, Judy Jepchirchir. She asked where I was working and the amount I was earning. I told her I was working at KPA and earning Sh25,000,” Kipsang narrated.

He added, “The CEO persuaded me to pay another Sh40,000 to work in Qatar. She said I would earn more in Qatar. Later, I was called for several interviews and I spent a lot of cash travelling from Mombasa to Eldoret.”

Kipsang said on one occasion when he couldn’t afford transport to Eldoret for an interview, the CEO urged him to resign from KPA and apply for a cashier role in Qatar.

“After resigning and relocating to Eldoret awaiting my travel to Qatar, I was told to be ready to travel on May 16 last year, but the trip was postponed to July. It was again postponed indefinitely. The World Cup ended. I asked Jepchirchir to explain why they kept postponing, and she blamed the elections in August."

He added, “I am still at home, jobless and now desperate. We have pushed for refunds, but the company is yet to pay.”

A parent, Grace Korir said she paid Sh250,000 in April last year for her son to secure a job in Qatar, but was shocked after the recruitment agency failed to honour the promise.

The widow said she used all the money she had as she sought a better life for her son.

Resla Makhoa, a hawker said: “I took a Sh400,000 loan for my son to get a job in Qatar. It is now two years since I paid the money. My son went to the agency’s offices and he was beaten up by goons.”

A report of an Uasin Gishu assembly ad hoc committee chaired by Gilbert Chepkong’a found that 10,000 youth from the county and the neighbouring Nandi paid money to the agency, but less than 100 secured jobs.

The senate committee received the assembly report.

Senator Murgor said the committee will retreat to write a report, which will be tabled in the senate.

“As a committee, we feel your pain. You have our support. We had not listened to parents and students. Whatever happened was unacceptable,” the committee chairman said.