ROAD construction works on the busy Kericho-Kisumu highway was halted yesterday when workers downed their tools to protest over what they termed as underpayment by the company overseeing the work. The more than 300 employees carrying twigs and singing anti-project manager Levy Ghai's slogans walked on the highway to the FBI International company offices at Awasi.
They said they have been working under poor conditions and without safety gear adding that their efforts to have the gadgets have fallen on deaf ears. They accused the project manager of dismissal of workers without consulting their union as agreed with the company. Through their representative shop steward Lukas Randiki, they said the manager has constantly issued warning letters "unnecessarily" to employees. "We are also concerned with the kind of language the project manager has been using and we are demanding his removal," Randiki said.
Contacted, the project manager, who arrived at the site after the workers had left for their Awasi office, denied the allegations and said they are handling the matter and work will soon resume. "Let me get to the bottom of the matter. I will have audience with the workers to see the way forward," Ghai said.
By the time of going to press, the project manager and top representatives of the employees were held up in a meeting to address the workers' grievances. The construction is part of the Mau Summit-Kericho-Kisumu highway upgrade expected to be completed this year. Local leaders have called on the Ministry of Roads to put pressure on the contractor to speed up the work. Roads minister Franklin Bett has in the past said the contractor has asked for more time. The minister said heavy rains in the region have made it difficult for the contractor to finish the work in time.