On May 24th 2020, an article by a local daily reported that Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto wrote to the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) to consider terminating the contract with the manager of the trains Africa Star Railway Operation Company Limited (Afristar) over what he termed as irreconcilable differences.
Fast forward to a few weeks later, the staff at the firm accused a little known but corrupt manager Sammy Gachuhi of high handedness.
Mr Gachuhi who is the Deputy General Manager at Afristar was at pains to handle the negative publicity even after it spilt to the limelight that he had went ahead to fire 6 staff who he accused of incitement. It was exposed by activist Boniface Mwangi on Twitter.
The staff members, who had accused their Chinese-filled management of mistreatment were literally rounded up by Gachuhi who forced them to delete their social media posts before getting fired.
The former Rift Valley Railway (RVR) concession General Manager in charge of communications is now new to treating staff like trash.
According to staff who know him, he had transferred his bad behaviour from the failed RVR to Afristar where the racial mix of Chinese looking down on the people had made the situation worse.
After RVR collapsed thanks to shady manager, the GOA University alumni past ways have not only replicated at Afristar but also metamorphosed into something lethal.
At Afristar, the managers are engaged in swindling the public. This is why Solicitor General Ogeto also wanted to address the termination of contracts between KRC and Afristar.
The report by Ogeto, quoting leaked documents, further intimated that the farm was shrouded in fraudulent activities arising from questionable cancellations of tickets that led to fake refunds.
According to the letter, the contract may be terminated as soon as Saturday, May 30, which marks the SGR’s third anniversary, despite the contract stipulating that African Star was to hold the contract through 2022.
“Further, that KRC may consider terminating the O&M contract after the three-year period stipulated in the O&M contract, in which case KRC may opt to temporarily take over the services of several key experts currently working with the operator,” stated Ogeto.
During his time at RVR, Gachuhi was among the managers blacklisted by the World Bank for mismanagement; this was before KRC threw all of them out for non-payment of concession fees totaling sh.2.7 billion in July 2017.
Gachuhi and company mismanaged a 25-year contract.
Pressing staff issues
Staff also accuse the Afristar Chinese bosses of lack of favoritism towards people of their kind.
“Here the promotion is not via merit it is handed out non-competitively to those whom the administration wants and there is nothing we can do about it”, wrote one of them.
Staff also decry the discrimination by their fellow Africans for the pleasure of the Chinese, where watchmen/guards from Deeway Security Company which is owned by the Chinese often mistreat their kind and prohibit African workers from passing through a gate which they allow only Chinese employees.
“On attempt to pass there we are told “Ngozi nyeusi hairuhusiwi hapa”.
As six staff members spend the time home after getting fired by Gachuhi. The DGM is enjoying the fruits of corruption.
Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Ministry of Labor should look into the grievances of Afristar staff.