China Road and Bridge Corporation's operated railway allegedly discriminating Kenyans
“Exclusive: Behind the SGR walls”
The Standard Gauge Railway has made the journey from Kenya's Capital Nairobi to the port City of Mombasa easier. The tugging of the locomotive engine cutting across the Tsavo wilderness to finally descend towards the Indian Ocean is a thing to marvel at. The coaches are almost always spotless, smiling staff willing you on board. To an outsider, the Chinese crew on board cuts the image of a humble servant, ready to please. They will hardly say a word whenever top government officials convene press conferences in their presence to celebrate another of their milestones. Investigations by The Sunday Standard have found a huge contrast between what happens when in public glare and what really goes on beneath the shiny surface when the Chinese- masters of the SGR- retire to their apartments and restaurant. Interviews with many of those working within the trains reveal that there exists an unwritten rule on the things that Kenyans can share with their Chinese masters.
For a start, they do not share tables at their staff restaurant. Though, it is not printed in black and white, Chinese staff would never sit on the same table with Kenyans and Kenyans are not expected to join their tables either. “Racism is so real here. There is an unwritten rule of where you need to sit. You cannot just join the Chinese table,” an assistant locomotive driver said. He said that this divide runs to the staff vans as well where even if it only one Chinese on board, Kenyans will not use them when time for drop offs come. “You cannot board a van that drops us in the evening even if there's only one Chinese on board. You will have to wait,” he said.
More excesses are allowed on the freight trains where there is little visibility. Chinese staff are allowed excesses such as smoking while in the locomotive and use of mobile phones, crimes that will get their Kenyan counterparts fired.