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BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,11 JULY 2018-Government spokes person Eric Kiraithe has denied reports of racial discrimination of workers on the Standard Gauge Railway’s Madaraka Express train service as claimed by a section of the press.
Addressing the press on Wednesday on allegations of the discrimination of Kenyan workers by their Chinese counterparts, Government Spokesperson Eric Kiraithe said no formal complaint had been lodged on the matter.
“Whereas the government is at hand to protect the individual rights and dignity of every Kenyan, the inward looking haki yetu (self-seeking) workplace culture has no place in the Madaraka Express, neither now, nor in future,” he said.
Kiraithe said SGR train services must be run with military precision to ensure seamless operations.
“We are now running about six trains daily; when you delay one of those for 30 minutes you cripple the entire system,” he observed.
Kiraithe has also accused persons he didn’t name of ganging up against the SGR project saying workers who collude with the “unfriendly forces” will be dismissed.
The government spokes person says the government was committed to the progressive absorption of Kenyan workers to senior roles in SRG train operations with the first phase scheduled for 2020 said to be on course.
He said more Kenyans will take up prominent roles in the running of the 609 kilometre-long railway infrastructure in 2022 with the ultimate handover from China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) by 2027.
“It would be very unfortunate if after the period is over we then go out to look for expatriates because we’re running multiple derailing, trains not coming on time, and them running out of fuel midway,” Kiraithe remarked.
“The staff members working with people against the SGR project will have no place in Madaraka Express because we are determined to build a human resource base that will ultimately take over the responsibility of manning the trains,” he added.
The SGR currently employs close to 3,000 workers with over 1,600 of them being Kenyans.
Reports of Kenyan workers being mistreated by their Chinese counterparts who are projected to be about 870 appeared on the social media recently and subsequently picked up by the mainstream media this week.
The over 800 Chinese workers include some 400 enlisted by the CRBC on July 14 after a Madaraka Express train stalled in Kibwezi on July 13.