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Counties

Refugee influx in Kajiado sparks labour tensions

barber shop
Immigrants have particularly taken over barber shops and salons in the towns. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

An influx of foreigners in Kajiado County satellite towns has created local rivalry with cartels suspected of minting millions in human trafficking.

Immigrants have taken most towns by storm providing cheap labour to the chagrin of locals. Most are from Democratic Republic Congo, Burundi and Rwanda with a handful from West Africa and Somalia.

According to Nzovu Jules of Refugee Affairs Secretariat (RAS), there are more than 4,000 registered refugees from Congo in Kajiado under United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

It is also estimated there are more than 4,000 illegal immigrants in Kitengela, Ong’ata Rongai and Ngong towns.

Mr Nzovu said that once in Kenya, the illegal immigrants pose as asylum seekers, but end up dodging the authorities to hawk foodstuffs on behalf of their handlers. They are paid Sh3 for every piece of Sh10 watermelon sold.

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Conglolese immigrants have particularly taken over barber shops and salons in the towns. There are more than 500 beauty shops in Kitengela town alone most have engaged the immigrants.

Cheap labour

A beauty parlour owner said they are cheap and trustworthy compared to Kenyans.

"We know most of them are in the country illegally but they are an option for cheap manpower. They are trustworthy considering they fear to find themselves on the wrong side of the law lest they face deportation. It is a calculated risk,’’ said the source.

Night clubs have also cashed in on immigrant waitress while homes employ them as house helps. An immigrant house help is said to be paid less than Sh4,000 compared to locals charging between Sh7,000-Sh10,000.

Locals depending on menial jobs are up in arms claiming the trend is denying them jobs. This has prompted regular standoffs resulting in scuffles.

“They have taken all menial jobs. Employers have been disregarding locals. We can hardly make a living and the situation is getting worse.

We charge Sh30 to shave a client but our brothers are paid a flat rate of Sh 100-150 per day,’’ said Moses Wambua, a barber in Kitengela town.

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