Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta inaugurated the Nairobi – Naivasha second phase of the Standard Gauge Railway, which honestly goes to nowhere, forget Jubilee’s promises. And not just that, but also, the Chinese government has since cut funds for the SGR project after the government failured to prove project viability.
In a bizarre report that appeared in the Sunday Standard last week revealed the racism, blatant abuse, bad treatment, wildlife deaths, and lack of skills transfer that characterizes the SGR trains. This happens under the nose of Jubilee government that choke out Sh1 billion monthly from taxpayers to repay the SGR.
“Beneath this shiny veneer is a tale of pain, anguish and broken dreams for a multitude of Kenyans who feel trapped on the train that ably fits the moniker Orient Express, because on it, Chinese nationals have created a small kingdom in which they run roughshod over Kenyan workers who say they are experiencing neo-colonialism, racism and blatant discrimination as the taxpayer foots the Sh. 30 million a day bill for the train, which losely translates to Sh. 1 billion at the end of every month.” Reads part of the Standard report.
The investigation report by the Standard revealed that Chinese workers were running a racist little kingdom at the trains and they had systematically excluded Kenyan workers from the core duties such as trotting the trains.
“Our investigation has revealed that Kenyan drivers have taken charge of the 472 kilometre ride just once, on the project launch with President Uhuru Kenyatta as a passenger, when two female drivers, Alice Gitau and Concilia Owire made the trip. When the cameras and VIPs exited the scene, the Chinese drivers took back control. They have never again been allowed to navigate the passengers from either end of the train track. Those who were trained two years ago in anticipation, have remained assistant shunting drivers, since the launch of Madaraka express, and only sit and watch as the Chinese drivers cruise to the coast and back,” the Standard reported.
The investigation also revealed that Kenyan workers at the SGR were not allowed to travel in the same vehicles with the Chinese, even if it’s carrying one Chinese or eat at the same tables with them.
“More excesses are allowed on the freight trains where there is little visibility. Chinese staff are allowed excesses such as smoking while in the locomotive and use of mobile phones, crimes that will get their Kenyan counterparts fired,” the report said.
The government response, however, points the blame finger on Kenyans, including those facing maltreatment. The States spokesman said that Kenyans should comprehend the work the Chinese are doing rather than focussing on the racial insults they are receiving from the Chinese. Aren’t we re-colonised already!?
The Chinese developer and operator of the SGR, China Road and Bridge Corporation, stands accused of discriminating Kenyan workers, who according to the government are expected to take over the running of the rail service in 10 years.
Baseless firing leading to unemployment, racial assignments, impoverished salaries, racial sitting arrangement, catering and personal hygiene services among others injustices the government wants Kenyans to ‘enjoy and celebrate.’
According to the government, they have set up a “systems” to resolve issues surrounding the operations of Madaraka Express passenger service and the cargo train. Efforts to get to understand the said systems always turn futile as there is nor recorded or existing system!
The State through Colonel Cyrus Oguna, the official government spokesman, keep on blaming Kenyans for not seeing the ‘good sides of the’ white elephant project.
One thing Kenyans have to honestly know is that SGR is an expensive irrelevant project. Kenya pays China 1 Billion monthly, which roughly transilates to over Sh33 Million daily.
In short, for SGR to be fully proffitable for both the contractor and Kenya, the successor of the white elephant after a whole damn decade, the Trains are supposed to ferry more than 35,000 Kenyans to and fro Mombasa daily, that leaves freight trains as side profits. Now, you get the joke Jubilee bluffed the whole Nation with.
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