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Economy

Nairobi train service grounded as workers protest

An RVR train in Nairobi. Protesting workers at the Rift Valley Railways (RVR) disrupted the Nairobi commuter train service for the second day on Thursday. FILE PHOTO | NMG
An RVR train in Nairobi. Protesting workers at the Rift Valley Railways (RVR) disrupted the Nairobi commuter train service for the second day on Thursday. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Protesting workers at the Rift Valley Railways (RVR) disrupted the Nairobi commuter train service for the second day on Thursday.

The RVR workers are protesting the termination of their service, in a month that saw the government cancel the rail firm’s operating licence.

On Thursday, they protested at the RVR offices in Nairobi, saying they would only resume work under Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) after knowing their new terms of employment.

The commuter train plying between the Nairobi’s city centre and Syokimau via Imara Daima has been grounded since Wednesday morning following the protests.

The employees, who comprise train attendants, drivers, engineers, welders, and security personnel, have also paralysed operations at the train serving Ruiru, Embakasi and Kikuyu.

Contract termination

In a letter addressed to the workers by RVR’s Group Chief Executive Isaiah Okoth, a copy which has been seen by the Business Daily, the workers are supposed to be transferred to KRC with effect from Friday.

“Following the High Court of Kenya order issued on 31st July 2017, terminating the Kenya concession agreement between the government of Kenya, KRC and RVR ordering the transfer of all employees of RVR to KRC, within a period of (30) days from the date of that order, you will be transferred to KRC with effect from September 1, 2017,” reads a section of the letter.

In the letter dated 30th August 2017, the workers are assured of access to their National Social Security Fund (NSSF) contribution with accruing interests as per the existing NSSF Act in Kenya.

All their outstanding leave days for the year 2017 earned and not used by August 31, 2017 will be transferred to KRC.

“We are not privy to the contents of the letter, this being a communication between an employer and his employee. We are going through government approvals and will conclude tomorrow (Thursday),” said KRC Managing Director Atanas Maina when we sought to know whether he is ready to receive the workers.

Reached by consent

Kenya terminated the 25-year contract it signed with RVR to run its century-old metre-gauge line to Uganda.

The decision was reached by consent made in the High Court between RVR and the Kenya Railways (KR) Corporation.

“It is hereby ordered by consent that the concession agreement dated January 23, 2006 be and is hereby terminated today July 31, 2017,” ordered Justice Grace Nzioka.

“The parties will within 30 days effect orderly transfer of employees and assets and agree on modalities of handing back of all the property to KR and the Government,” she added.

The threat to terminate the concession agreement has been hanging in the air since January after financiers failed to come to RVR’s rescue.

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