Kenyans working on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) have exposed how the Chinese workers have practicing blatant racism and mistreating them in their jobs.
In a report compiled by the Standard, the SGR workers revealed their tale of pain, anguish and broken dreams mostly due to the extreme racial discrimination exercised by the Chinese.
The SGR - a flagship project by President Uhuru Kenyatta - was supposed to be handed over to the Kenyan crew through a hands-on skill transfer process.
But sadly, the Kenyan crew only took charge of the train once - the maiden Madaraka Express trip on May 31, 2017, when President Uhuru launched the Ksh372 billion standard gauge railway line connecting Mombasa and Nairobi.
[caption caption="President Uhuru at Voi during the maiden Madaraka Express trip"][/caption]
Since then, the Chinese took back control of the commuter trains running on the new line and the fully-trained Kenyan drivers' only privilege is to take seats in the driver's cabin and watch as the Chinese navigate the train to and fro Mombasa and Nairobi.
According to some of the employees, the Chinese are adamant about the agreed skills transfer as they plan to prolong their stay and remaining relevant to the project.
For instance, the controls on the trains are programmed in Chinese which makes it nearly impossible for the Kenyans to do even basics such as troubleshooting.
Worse racist actions include the "unwritten rule" that prohibits Kenyans dining on the same tables with the Chinese in the SGR cafeterias.
Besides, Kenyans cannot commute on the same company vans as the Chinese to get dropped home after work: "You cannot board a van that drops us in the evening even if there's only one Chinese on board. You will have to wait," one employee is quoted.
The Chinese workers are also privileged to do what would easily land Kenyans in trouble including smoking in the driver's cabins, sleeping inside the coaches and answering calls of nature on the tracks.
[caption caption="The Kenyan crew that underwent 2-years training to run the SGR trains"][/caption]
One Kenyan employee noted: "They are chain smokers and they do it inside the driver's cabin. We do not have washrooms in the driver’s cab, so some relieve themselves on the track lines."
Moreover, whenever a Kenyan is fired, they are replaced by a Chinese which has seen them outnumbered as there are 50 Chinese drivers against 38 locals.
Some of the Chinese who came in during the construction phase have now taken over jobs that can be done by Kenyans including landscaping, pruning flowers, clearing thickets, running apartments and cooking.
The height of this discrimination has seen Kenyans employed with engineering backgrounds doing menial jobs such as cleaning and garbage collection and get paid less than a quarter of what their Chinese counterparts earn for the same job.
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