Kenya: BWI affiliates visit a Railway construction project employing 6,000 workers.

Using the opportunity of the launching of the FNV/BWI project of organizing workers in International Financial Institutions and Multinational companies’ infrastructure projects in East Africa, 22 participants visited a huge Railway project on 21st February 2018 in Nairobi.

The visit was focused on the Nairobi – Malaba standard gauge phase 2A at Ngong railway tunnel which is 4.2 km tunnel that employs 1,700 workers.

The phase 2A is divided into six sections with a total of 6,000 employees. The main construction company is China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) one of the state-owned companies in China which has sub contracted China Communication Construction Company that will undertake the project up to Naivasha.

 The railway line is an extension of the completed Nairobi – Mombasa and it is an important part of the East African railway network with the total length of 489.57km, that will be implemented in three phases. The phase 1 of the Nairobi – Naivasha has a total of 120km with a contract amount of US$1.48 billion for a duration of 54 months.

The aim of the visit is to assess the working conditions and enforce the union influence on the site. Most of the workers are unionized with local workers comprising of 90%, with about 300 Chinese workers. Freedom of association is guaranteed with the OHS committee in place. There are 45 working hours per week with paid over time, paternity and maternity leave is accorded to workers, most women workers work in the offices/managerial levels as they shy away from manual jobs, child labour is not allowed.

 In view of the visits and other IFIs funded projects, the BWI affiliates in the East Africa need to lobby to be part of the procurement processes to advance workers’ conditions and social justice as observed during the discussion on public infrastructure and roads.