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Protesting road workers paralyse traffic in Nakuru

Monday August 1 2016

Protesting construction workers at China Railways Engineering Cooperation No 10 (Soilo Junction) paralysed traffic on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH |NATION MEDIA GROUP

Protesting construction workers at China Railways Engineering Cooperation No 10 (Soilo Junction) paralysed traffic on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway when they protested to demand higher pay. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JOSEPH OPENDA
By JOSEPH OPENDA
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Employees of a Chinese road construction firm in Nakuru have downed their tools to protest low pay and poor working conditions.

China Railways Engineering Group workers caused a heavy traffic build-up on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway on Monday morning as they demonstrated for better pay.

The workers blocked the road using stones and twigs at the Soilo-Njoro turnoff, paralysing traffic in the early morning.

They were later dispersed by police, who cleared the road of the debris. The workers then marched to the company's offices.

Some of the protesting construction workers at the Soilo interchange. PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Some of the protesting construction workers at the Soilo interchange. PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Police officers, who arrived from Nakuru town, used force to disperse the more than 50 workers, who were chanting slogans criticising their employer.

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According to the workers, their employer had turned a deaf ear to their demands for salary raises from Sh250 to Sh500 per day.

They also claimed the company’s human resource manager has been mistreating them.

“Our employer has been firing those who ask for better pay, something that has now pushed us to demonstrate,” said Vincent Manyara.

The employees demanded that their salaries be raised immediately and also urged the company to hire a new, more understanding human resource manager.

The Chinese company was awarded a Sh2.7 billion contract by the Kenya National Highways Authority to build three interchanges along the northern corridor in a World Bank-funded project.

The interchanges are at the Mau Summit, Njoro and Nyahururu turn-offs.

The interchanges have been touted as alternative transport routes to ease the traffic load on the busy highway besides greatly contributing to road safety.

The tender was awarded in February and construction was to be completed in 15 months.