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Striking workers at Thwake dam ordered to report to work immediately

The  China Gezhouba Company  Project Manager, Chen Bi Zhan and his translator, Qill Feny during a stakeholders’ crisis meeting on workers strike at Thwake Multi-Purpose Dam on Tuesday July 30, 2019. Photo by KNA.
A consultant at Thwake dam, Eng. David Kimingi explains to the Makueni County Commissioner, Maalim Mohammed (left) the plan of the dam at Thwake on Tuesday, July 30, 2019. Photo by KNA.

Striking  workers  at the Thwake multipurpose dam project have been ordered to report to work immediately or be dismissed.

The resolution was reached on Tuesday during a stakeholder’s crisis meeting after more than 942 workers at the multibillion project downed their tools last Friday over what they termed as low salaries and poor working conditions.

Speaking at the meeting, the Makueni County Commissioner (CC), Maalim  Mohammed declared the strike illegal and warned that workers who would not have reported to work on Wednesday at 8am would be sacked.

“There was no strike notice as required by the labour laws, and the strike is therefore unlawful,” he said.

The CC said police would provide adequate security for workers willing to report on duty and added that any person hell bent on disrupting normal operations of the project would be arrested and charged accordingly.

‘‘We shall take stern action on any person who will intimidate workers intending to report to work,” cautioned  Maalim.

He  noted that the construction of the dam was one of the water projects progressing well in the country and warned local leaders against politicising the project.

“The project will be a game changer in the region of Ukambani and it will be very unfortunate for any person to sabotage the project,” he said.

The CC however, said some of the issues raised by the workers would be addressed to ensure smooth running of the project.

Some  of  the issues included provision of transport, drinking water to the workers and adequate toilets by the contractor  China Gezhouba Company (CGC).

Speaking at the meeting, the CGC Project Manager, Chen Bi  Zhan  said the company was paying the workers as per the labour laws and denied allegations of poor pay and working conditions.

“The rates we are paying the workers are those approved by the Kenyan government. We are also providing protective clothing to the workers and we shall continue operating within the Kenyan laws,” said Zhan.

He  assured residents that CGC would also provide two access roads to the river for the residents besides watering roads located at 800 metres form the site twice a day.

The  strike had halted operations at the mega project.

By  Roselyne  Kavoo

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