Demonstrations characterized the Kazi Mtaani Program in Nyeri county Wednesday as hundreds of youth protested over what they termed as favoritism in recruitment exercise as well as delayed pay for work done.
Business was nearly brought to a standstill in Nyeri Town as hundreds of noisy youths took to the streets waving twigs as well as their tools of trade including pangas, slashers and spades.
The police had to intervene to contain the situation that was fast getting out of hand, even as the youths accused national government officers in charge of the programme in the area of bias in the recruitment drive.
Most of the youths who were drawn from the slum areas within Nyeri Town said their names were missing in the records despite having been successfully recruited and informed as such.
Amos Maina said he was among many who were recruited on Monday and told to report to work the following day, only to be informed that their names were missing in the system.
They accused chiefs and their assistants of being behind the scheme of replacing their names with their preferred choices and called on the government to intervene to ensure fair play in the recruitment exercise.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta meant well when he started this program but his people are failing him,” Maina said.
Another youth, Elizabeth Neneu, said she was among those who applied and were recruited only to be informed later on that her details were not captured in the system when she reported to work.
Others complained of nonpayment for work done, saying it was unfair for them to render their services and not receive their dues on time as promised.
Catherine Wamaitha said she was among the lot that was engaged in the first phase of the program but was yet to receive her pay.
The government pledged to pay them at the rate of Sh455 per day with the money set to be released after working for 11 days.
They also expressed fears that a plan had been hatched to deny them full pay for the 11 days with rumors being rife that they were to be paid for only eight days.
However, Nyeri Central Deputy County Commissioner, Joseph Mwangi, said some of those leading the demonstrations were not from the affected area as per their identification documents.
He said those who may have been erroneously left out had their details taken afresh and assured that they would be considered.
Initially, the Sub-county had been allocated 3,779 slots but the number was scaled up to 4,474 to cater for the high number of applicants.
On delayed pay, the DCC said the cohorts had not been paid countrywide and so the delay was not happening in Nyeri alone.
He said that the delay was also occasioned by some beneficiaries giving conflicting details such as Identity card numbers and names not matching with corresponding phone numbers that would be used for payment purposes.
Mwangi assured them that they will be paid once the anomalies are rectified and none will have their pay deducted irrespective of the falsehoods being peddled around.
The programme is an initiative by President Uhuru Kenyatta administration to provide employment to the youths especially from informal settlements as a way of cushioning them against the adverse effects of Covid-19.
By Samuel Waititu