Chinese-built railways unleash jobs for Kenyans


NAIROBI, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) — After a long-time searching, Cetrine Misango has gotten a better-paid job as a security guard for Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) that is being built by a Chinese company.

“I get better-paid here compared to my previous job as a receptionist. Though I am just a security guard right now, I can get promoted as a supervisor or even a manager in the future,” Misango said at his workplace in a campsite of the railway project located on the outskirts of the capital Nairobi.

The 22-year-old man said the Chinese people here are nice to him, and he prefers to work until the end of the contract so that he can raise enough money for further study.

Misango is just one of the some 8,000 Kenyans who have secured a job and are currently working at different sections of the 472 km railway project which ranges from the port city of Mombasa to Nairobi.

Elsewhere in Angola, more than 60,000 local people were involved in a newly-finished railway project funded by China, while thousands are still maintaining its operation.

Despite significant economic progress in recent years, Kenya is facing a high unemployment rate among youth, who form 35 percent of the Kenyan population.

A 2014 official report showed that at least one million youth entered the labor market in the country each year, yet only a fraction can secure gainful employment.

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta said last month during an inspection tour of the SGR project that the construction of the railway will create thousands of jobs for Kenyans and lead to the economic transformation of the country.

China has funded 90 percent of the 3.8 billion U.S. dollar project.

According to China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), the Chinese contractor of the project, the company will hire up to 30, 000 Kenyan workers as the construction works intensify.

CRBC is also expected to train hundreds of engineers and technicians who will be available for future local and regional railway developments.

Erick Orucho at the same campsite as Misango works is one of such beneficiaries.

The college graduate has been promoted to be a laboratory supervisor after being trained to master all the equipment to test samples of different materials for the past seven months.

The 23-year-old, who can now even teach other colleagues to use these equipment, said he loves and values his work in the Chinese company, and hopes what he’s being learnt here could some day help realize his dream of becoming an engineer.

Li Juguang, Manager of Liaison Department with CRBC, said the company is making steady progress in the construction of the railway with the work of both Chinese and local staff.

The manager said the plant for manufacturing sleepers, for instance, can train quite a number of Kenyan employees during the construction period, and will continue to be operational and offer jobs for locals after the railway is completed.

Besides creating jobs, the Chinese company has also conducted various social activities and programs to help Kenyans living along the railway line. By far, over 6,000 locals have benefited from these activities like well drilling, school donation, road repair and roadside assistance, according to CRBC.

The railway, one of the largest infrastructure projects in the county’s history, will replace a narrow-gauge track built over 100 years ago during British colonial rule, and is expected to extend eventually to Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

It is expected to cut the time for passengers to travel from Mombasa to Nairobi from the current eight hours to about four and a half hours. Time for freight trains to run between the two cities will also be reduced to eight hours.

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