SGR terminus. PHOTO | George Charo

A cold war is screwing between newly-trained Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) staff, the Chinese and the government. The SGR leadership and the CRBC are oppressing the newly employed workers following a misunderstanding between the two stakeholders.

The persecution of the workers comes after 102 students trained on SGR operations at the Railways Training Institute accused the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) of discrimination, harassment, torture, corruption and underpayment.

The team has also accused the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) and the Standard Gauge Railway Oversight Authority of “failing in their mandate” after they raised the matter only to be given empty promises.

CRBC human resource boss Navy Wang is accused of demeaning them saying, “You Kenyans are very many and desperate for jobs, so this is a favour we are doing you”. 

The workers wrote a letter to the KRC boss Atanas Maina and government ministries, protesting discrimination against Kenyans by the Chinese and especially against ladies perceived as not capable of delivering in some areas they trained in.

“After the meeting, our representatives were intimidated and verbally abused by CRBC employees. Some threats were sent through WhatsApp messages, warning us of dismissal if we pursued the matter further,” said an operator.

The contract stipulates a basic salary of between Sh24,590 and Sh30,000 depending on the operations section - Signal and Communication, Locomotive Operators and Transport Management. Also, there is no provision for overtime pay and all operators are subjected to a six-month probation period to determine the extension of the contract or its termination in case of prolonged illness.

The workers have pleaded the government to save them with the mistreat from the Chinese and the new bosses on the KRC and SGR firms. The CRBC officials said that they are acting on the directives given by the government before the project started.

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