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COTU Secretary General takes on Chinese bosses who allegedly mistreat Kenyan workers

10th July, 2018

KR has instructed operator to submit a report on mistreatment claims within 72 hours for review. Kenya Railways has launched investigations into racism and mistreatment claims by Kenyans working at the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) following an exposé by The Standard.

The agency said it had instructed the SGR operator – China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) – to submit a report on the mistreatment claims within 72 hours for a critical review. “The said reports have elicited emotions from the public. The outrage and disappointment expressed is understandable, and we share the same sentiments,” Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Main said in a statement yesterday.

“This unethical conduct, if found to be authentic, is completely unacceptable,” Mr Maina said. He said KR has also deployed its human resource department to engage with the local staff employed by the operator to independently establish the authenticity of the clams to inform further actions. “We have taken the matters very seriously and should culpability be established against any person or persons, action will be taken in accordance with the laws of Kenya,” Maina said, adding that Kenya Railways was committed to observing highest ethical standard possible in execution of its mandate. The response comes a day after Deputy President William Ruto confirmed that the CRBC was earning Sh1 billion a month to run the train, saying ‘running the SGR is not the same as a matatu'.

The DP, while speaking to NTV in an interview on Sunday night, said the new railway line would break even by the time the loan repayments are due in 2020. Kenya Railways is the agency mandated to supervise the Chinese operator running the train.

Yesterday, staff at SGR, who spoke in confidence, said their Chinese bosses had asked them to appoint representatives who would collect their views as a group and present them for action to deal with fears of victimisation. The Transport ministry is also understood to be planning an impromptu visit to the site as part of a fact-finding mission to ensure CRBC operates within the law. Some of the complaints raised by employees include racial discrimination and harassment by the Chinese staff.

Investigations by The Standard, which broke the story on Sunday, revealed a huge contrast between what happens when in public glare and what really goes on beneath the surface.