Kenya rail link to create jobs . . . for Chinese workers

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Planned extent of rail link
Planned extent of rail link

Kenyans are angry at news that China Road and Bridge Corporation, the engineering giant charged with building the railway link between Kenya and the rest of the East African Community, is to bring 500 Chinese labourers into the country despite high local unemployment levels.

“While we appreciate awarding the contract to the Chinese, we would not allow such a huge number of Chinese workers coming to steal our jobs here,” Godfrey Injera told reporters in Nairobi, adding: “The 500 Chinese coming to Kenya have already taken jobs meant for our local people, this is unacceptable.”

Mavis Owila, a vegetable vendor, who said she did not condone the government’s move to allow Chinese import labour on jobs that locals could do, echoed this sentiment.

“I strongly believe this contract is not doing any good to the nation. Instead, this contract is doing more harm for Kenya by churning out jobs meant for locals to foreigners,” said Ms Owila.

Kenya Railway Corporation (KRC), Managing Director, Atanas Maina, announced that works on the 609km railway would commence in September with the Chinese contracted company bringing in at least 500 workers.

“The contractor will bring in the workers and get additional ones locally (…) We have also commenced discussions to reduce timelines and ensure that the project is completed by 2017,” Maina was quoted as saying. He added that the first stage of the railway line construction would cost the country a whopping Sh327 billion.

The new railway link is scheduled to be completed by 2018.