Kenyans have been outraged by reports that Chinese doing menial jobs on the SGR could be pocketing two to three times more than what a Kenyan locomotive driver earns monthly.
In a report by the Nairobian, a subsidiary of The Standard, a Kenyan train driver has a basic salary of sh30, 000 but the Chinese earn more than this.
“Kenyan cleaners are getting between sh15, 000 and 18, 000 monthly, but no Chinese, even those in the lowest cadre is under sh2, 000 daily, an official who requested not to be named disclosed.
The official added that most of the job openings at the SGR are being filled up by Chinese nationals who are being imported.
“Every day, we are getting new guys taking over all types of jobs. Even those twig brooms are being imported,” lamented an employee.
“Many are old men and even communicating in English is a problem,” he added.
But the problem is that the Chinese government signed a pact with Kenya to manage and maintain the railway line for the next 5 years which leaves the country with little or no bargaining power at all.
This is even as another report revealed that over 300 Kenyans working with the SGR have not signed any labour contract.
Ticketing operators and coach attendants are among the 300 Kenyans who have no contract with the Chinese.
Before its launch in June, they had worked for the SGR for six months on probation basis awaiting to be absorbed on permanent basis in May.
Questioned about the appalling situation, Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina told the Business Daily that there was a ‘contract hitch’ and the Chinese have requested for more time to draw up employment contracts.
“As we speak, the operator is in the process of formalizing the contract and I believe it will be resolved in the next few months,” said the MD.