Revealed: How Kenya gov't gave Sh239 million entertainment allowance to Chinese SGR workers

The senior engineer was given Sh5 million to buy airtime

Revealed: How Kenya gov't gave Sh237 million entertainment allowance to Chinese SGR workers

Details have emerged on how the Kenyan government allowed extravagant and outrageous expenditures in the construction of the Standard Gauge Railways which cost taxpayers a total of Sh335 billion - which was financed through a loan from the Chinese government.

The Nation on Monday reported it had access to the contracts between the Chinese and the Kenya Railways and whose expenditure items list is bound to be mind boggling to millions of taxpayers who are grappling with extreme poverty.

One of the highlights was the allocation of Sh239 million as an entertainment allowance for Chinese expatriates who were imported in droves to work on the project.

The Kenyan government, despite its meagre resources did not spare any cent to give the Chinese national a royal stay during their three year stint while they were building the railway.

For instance, the lead engineer was allocated Sh5 million airtime allowance - a preposterous sum that translates to nearly Sh5000 per day!

For perspective, assuming that the engineer was on call for every single minute in the entire 3 years he was in the country, he would still not exhaust the Sh5 million worth of airtime.

Another Sh1 billion was used to plant decorative grass on the Standard Gauge Railway that runs from Nairobi to Mombasa.

Again for perspective, if the grass had been foregone and the money used to to pay a stipend to educated youth working as interns in government office, it would have sustained a total of Sh5000 youths working on a one-year internship each at a salary of Sh20,000 per month.

The Sh335 billion used in the SGR project included blatantly exaggerated purchases such as digital voice recorders, which cost less than Sh5,000 in the streets in Nairobi - but were bought for a whopping Sh341,500 each.

Most of the items, such a welding machine that goes for Sh25,000 but was bought for Sh442,872 were shipped from China, denying Kenyans the revenue for the exaggerated purchases

A 2018 report by the Standard indicated that about 5,000 Chinese nationals were brought in to work on the mega SGR project.

The huge number of workers include both specially trained experts, as well as other staff who do routine jobs that would otherwise be done by the millions of unemployed Kenyans.

The 5000 expatriates includes civil and structural engineers, accountants, dieticians, cooks, self-taught locomotive operators as well as welders and carpenters.

The Kenyan government continues to pay for some of the Chinese expatriates who continue to run the SGR freight and passenger service.

The senior staff live at the luxurious White Heights Apartments in Lavington estate - with the total Chinese staff costing taxpayers a further Sh1 billion per month to run and maintain the SGR services.

The Sh1 billion monthly bill is not included in the Sh335 billion used to build the rail line and the extra Sh11 billion used to compensate land owners in the areas the SGR line touched.

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