Mutula Kilonzo Junior, senator of Makueni County awed many Kenyans by protesting that China will soon own Kenya. How? Chinese were the contractors of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project.
According to the Makueni county senator, there are some jobs in the SGR project such as manning the gates that most jobless Kenyans could perfectly do. To him, foreigners are only allowed to work on projects that no Kenyan can professionally do. Currently, the Kenyan government keeps on with taking loans that are extremely huge from China and still award them jobs as well as projects worth multi-billions.
How huge is the country’s debt to the foreign nation, China? According to the Makueni senator, the debt makes up approximately 66% of Kenya’s foreign debt. Part of this debt arises from building the SGR which was contracted to a Chinese firm after the country also loaned Kenya money for the project.
The Chinese Contractors accusations
Apart from that debt issue, the Makueni senator alleged that the foreign contractors blocked waterways at Sultan Hamud. The blockage caused flooding in that area. He also accused the contractors of splitting a primary school in Makueni while building Standard Gauge Railway, SGR and later refusing to repair the split primary school.
The Makueni county senator is not the only one who accused the China Paying Road and Bridge Cooperation, but several reports have recently brought damning accusations as well. According to TUKO: Kenya news today, the Chinese contractors harass, discriminate, and they are also strong racist to the Kenyan staff that works at SGR. Here are a number of allegations made in the media reports.
1. Kenyan workers cannot use the foreigners (Chinese) vans during drop-off or pick-up hours or eat meals at their tables.
2. There are large wage disparities between the foreigners and locals
3. The contractors threaten them.
4. They make then work for long hours.
5. They harass as well as torture them
Note that the incident allegations above have not yet been proved. On 12th July, Akur Yatani the cabinet secretary of labour ordered a thorough investigation to be done as Kenyans raised concern over how the government is handling the matter. The CS has already constituted a team of Ministry officials of high levels so that they can prove or disprove the allegations.
It is estimated that the SGR project was worth sh. 320 billion with an additional monthly upkeep of sh.1 billion being paid to the China Road and Bridge Corporation in order to keep the project running. Reports by TUKO.co.ke further state that in 2014, before the SGR project even kicked off, CRBC received a 3.5 billion cheque from the Kenyan government. A sh.1.3 billion cheque was later issued to the same contractors. What for? Well, the huge payment was simply labeled as ‘Pre-operations Phase Services Payments’.