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Kenya-Somalia wall builders mull boycott over pay

Storyline:National News

National Youth Service (NYS) personnel engaged in construction of the Kenya-Somalia border security wall in Mandera have threatened to down their tools over delayed payment of allowances.

The more than 50 workers, including machine operators, instructors, surveyors and designers, said they had not been paid since March.

The recruits said their efforts to reach NYS director Nelson Githinji through project co-ordinator Charles Wambugu had been futile.

“Our families’ survival has been complicated by this situation. Some of our children are out of school due to a lack of school fees.

“We shall down our tools on Friday and start our journey back home if action is not taken,” said a disgruntled serviceman who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation.

They said each worker had been promised an allowance of Sh126,000 at the start of the project in March.

“We asked to be paid before we left Nairobi but the NYS director told us that some of us would drop out if we were paid.

“He promised to pay us immediately we got here but that has not happened,” said one of the workers.

He said they had information that the Immigration and Interior Co-ordination ministries had wired their project funds to National Youth Service which is mandated to pay them.

The wall project, according to government sources, is funded by several ministries and departments and is meant to seal the porous Kenya-Somalia border and guard against infiltration by Al Shabaab militants.

The militants have been blamed for terror attacks on Kenya, which escalated after the country sent its troops to Somalia in 2011. The wall is expected to stretch from Border Point One in Mandera to Kiunga in Lamu.

“This was to be a six-month project but a lack of payment is slowing it and we doubt if it will be completed,” said the NYS worker.

An officer attached to the Rapid Deployment Unit said Interior PS Monica Juma had promised to deal with the matter when she visited Mandera in May.

Mr Wambugu said he could not comment on the matter.

Bussiness Daily