James Momanyi @jamomanyi
During the inaugural “Senate Mashinani” edition in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, the Senate also received a petition from Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei (pictured) who wants Karebe Gold, a British mining firm sanctioned for allegedly mistreating workers and failing to invest in the local community.
The Senator claimed the company based in Chemase area of Nandi County has been subjecting workers to harsh working conditions, including working inordinately long hours and without the safety and protective equipment required when working in the mines. He also said the firm has engaged in dishonest land acquisition in the area and has failed to compensate property owners whose houses have been destroyed due to blasting activities of the mines.
Cherargei also claimed that despite the firm extracting gold from the area, the local community has not benefited in any way from the precious resource and has instead been left in a worse off position than they were before the firm commenced operations in the area.
“Therefore, your humble petitioners pray that the Senate investigates this matter and makes appropriate recommendations thereon, with a view to ensuring the rights of workers at the firm are respected and that the local community benefits from extraction of gold in their area,” he said.
The Senator said if found culpable of breaches of law or other malpractices, action should be taken against the directors of the firm. During the Senate plenary, a number of Senators again gave a fair hearing to the petition.
Kericho Senator Aoron Cheruiyot said the truth of the matter is that these are people who have come to the country because of weak laws. “They impoverish our nation and take away natural resources with very little benefits being extended to the people that live close by.”
When contacted for comment, Chairman of Karebe Mines Charlie Tyron called the Senator’s allegations “unfounded” and pointed out that the various government agencies have investigated the allegations a number of times and given them a clean bill of health in each occasion.
He identified some of the agencies that have undertaken investigations in the past as National Environment Management Authority, Kenya National Human Rights Commission and the police.
“These allegations are unfounded and we think the Senator has a vendetta against the company. He has been making these allegations all over, tagging our former employees who were dismissed because of various malpractices in vain,” Tyron said.
“We have followed all the laws of the land to the latter and have paid all taxes and levies we are supposed to pay to the government and county. If we were engaged in any malpractices, the government should have taken the necessary action against us,” he said. He accused Senator Cherargei of harassment and intimidation, adding that other leaders in the area from chiefs, county commissioners and MP and members of the community have never raised any issue with their operations.
Tyron believes they are a target of well-orchestrated hate campaign intended to dispossess them of their investment they have built legally in favour of another foreign investor.
“Such kind of behaviour will damage the reputation of Kenya as an investment destination because it is wrong to harass and intimidate foreign investors engaged in legal activities,” he said.