Eric Kiraithe
Eric Kiraithe

Kenyans must gather the courage to tackle issues to do with work ethic, government spokesman Eric Kiraithe has said following reports of the mistreatment of SGR workers.

In a statement issued at the KICC in Nairobi on Wednesday, Kiraithe wondered why foreigners are in the country since “they are not more qualified than we are”.

“They do not come because they have the experience,” he said.

He added: “I am not saying any worker should be discriminated and humiliated in the work place but we must all appreciate that the operations of a modern train is a profession that calls for military standard discipline.”

The spokesman noted that the government is at hand to protect the rights and dignity of every Kenyan citizen but added that workers have to learn how things are done instead of complaining in the media.

“Inward looking, haki yetu (our right) centered personalities have no place in this kind of profession, [not now or in the future]. They are the first crop of Kenyans employed on this project and the culture they entrench will determine whether in less that 10 years we shall depend on them,” he said.

“It would be very unfortunate if after the agreed period, we continue relying on expatriates. it is important that they shift their focus from short term diversions to the challenge at hand.”

Kiraithe said all organisations face challenges but that matters get complicated when they turn racial.

The Standard Gauge Railway case is one of the clash of cultures, he said, but added that no organisation overcomes challenges through mass media.

The official pointed out that many organisations prefer foreign workers and this is why there are work permit issues at immigration.

“We don’t need to do a lot of research to realise we are losing jobs to foreigners especially in civil engineering,” he said. “I am not saying this to be an apologist. There is something we can learn from other cultures on project management.”

Kiraithe said, however, that the government will investigate the claims and take action where necessary.

He assured that all the allegations will be judiciously investigated and that action will be taken taken in the best interests of Kenyans.

But he said that the “sensational reporting” ignored facts including the training skills and responsibilities handover to Kenyans.

Kiraithe said the ongoing staff orientation is not about transferring technical skills but having the right mindset and moral principles including values.

On July 9, Kenya Railways Managing Director Attanas Maina said the China Road and Bridge Corporation had been instructed to submit a report within 72 hours on the claims of mistreatment of workers.

“The outrage, anger and disappointment expressed is understandable and we share the same sentiments. This unethical conduct, if found authentic, [will not be permitted],” he said.

The report also said more excesses are allowed on freight trains where there is little visibility.

Source: The Star

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