Youths protest being denied WRC Safari Rally jobs

A group of youths from Naivasha, Nakuru County, took to the streets on Monday 19, 2023, to protest the failure of the organizers of the World Rally Championship (WRC) to hire them as casual labourers. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Business in Naivasha town was temporarily paralysed after tens of youths took to the streets to protest the failure of organisers of the World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally to hire them as casual labourers.

They lit bonfires on roads, and barricaded various streets, forcing anti-riot police to disperse them using teargas canisters.

The youths took issue with elected leaders for failing to raise the issue with the organisers noting that outsiders had been hired.

Last week while visiting Naivasha, President William Ruto promised residents they would get first priority in jobs.

But group leader Simon Wakaba said they had not benefited from any job opportunity in the preparations that had been going on for months.

He challenged Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba to intervene as directed by the President. “Last week, the President promised local youths would benefit, but this has turned out to be another unfulfilled promise,” he said.

A Safari Rally driver tests his car in Nairobi 0on May 18, 2023, ahead of the 2023 WRC. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Wakaba said middlemen had taken over the hiring, adding that area youths had little to show for it. This was echoed by Mathew Ariri, who lashed at area leaders for remaining silent as outsiders take over jobs.

He said for the third year running, the rally organisers had ignored residents and were working with outsiders.

“From youths to traders and hoteliers, all are complaining of how the organisers of WRC have given them a blackout, and it's time this changed,” he said.

Another Boniface Mwangi said artists had been ignored in planning for the event. “We have not benefited from any project from WRC as Naivasha residents, and as artists we want to be given a platform to showcase our talent too,” he said. [Antony Gitonga]