Migrant workers who are supposed to be cleared by the National Employment Authority (NEA) have asked the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe activities of two clinics that test them before they travel.
The workers said the two clinics Tai and Bayan are involved in fraudulent activities.
The gave the account of one Khalid Ali Jawa, at Equity Bank where they were being asked to deposit money before they are tested at the Tai and Bayan clinics.
“Money we pay to the two clinics namely Tai and Bayan which are also foreign owned go to the personal accounts of individual employees of the facilities and we are asking the relevant government agencies to investigate these fraudulent activities,” they added.
They also demanded to know why a foreign company by the name Gulf Approved Medical Centers Association (GAMCA) has been given the monopoly to provide medical testing for Kenyans travelling to Saudi Arabia at an extra cost of US$88 (Ksh 8,800) yet local service providers were charging Ksh 4,000 only.
They said GAMCA is not locally registered and that it does not pay taxes to the Kenyan Government.
The workers said GAMCA had only two clinics based in Nairobi forcing all Kenyans from different parts of the country wishing to go and work in Saudi Arabia to incur extra travel expenses.
The more than 5,000 Kenyans who have applied for jobs in Saudi Arabia added that they could lose them due to delays by the (NEA) to process their applications.
The job seekers who had applied for placement with different employers in Saudi Arabia said their agents had told them that since the government started relaxing COVID-19 travel restrictions, NEA had not started processing their applications.
“We don’t understand why NEA has been unable to process our contracts and forward them to the Ministry of Labour for attestation yet this process is supposed to take just two days,” one of the affected workers said.
The workers who spoke on condition that they are not named fearing reprisals from NEA said their contracts are set to expire in the next 60 days.
They said this will force them to sign new contracts failure to which their opportunities will be given to applicants from the neighboring countries of Uganda and Tanzania.
“Our agents have also informed us that they risk being fined US$27 surcharge per day if our contracts are not going to be processed within the stipulated period of 90 days,” another one added.
The workers appealed to the Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection, Simon Chelugui, to intervene and establish why NEA was delaying the processing of their contracts.
Our efforts to talk to NEA acting Director General Edith Okoki, were unsuccessful.
The migrant workers who mainly consist of domestic workers said some of them had already done medical tests to travel before the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
They added that t they will be required to do fresh tests at an extra cost.
They also questioned plans by NEA to increase the two-week pre-departure training which is provided by accredited training schools approved by both NEA and the National Industrial Training Authority to one month saying it is exploitative.
“Our agents pay Ksh 10,000 for the pre-departure training for each migrant worker which will now increase this cost to Ksh 20,000 if they increase the training period to one month. This is pure exploitation because as domestic workers we don’t need that extra training period,” they said.
The workers warned that the extension of the pre-departure training will also lead to delays in the fulfillment of contracts and their deployment by agents and asked CS Chelugui to review the NEA plans.