Kenyan contractors supplying heavy duty equipment for the standard gauge railway project say they have been edged out of business by Chinese nationals.
They claim they were kicked off construction sites before their contracts ended after a Chinese associate of China Road & Bridge Corporation (CRBC), the contractor, imported his own machinery.
Mr Kanyana Muriuki of Nyana Engineering and spokesman of the aggrieved firms numbering about 40, said they were forced off CRBC sites by one Liu Yong, who is now supplying excavators and other machinery.
Investigations by Nation established that Mr Liu and Mr Han Xin own Eastern Unity Investment Ltd in Embakasi.
“We are small contractors with no more than four machines each. At the onset of the project, CRBC hired our machines with no fuss but a few months later, they told us to remove them and replaced them with Eastern Unity Investment equipment,” said Mr Muriuki.
Mr Ken Wanjohi of Southill Investments said he was told to remove his excavator from Syokimau on February 12, the same day more than 20 other machines owned by local contractors were kicked out.
Mr Njung’e Ndugire of Northill Construction recalls being encouraged by government officials to invest in the project.
“The then Transport and Infrastructure CS urged Kenyans to be ready to supply services and equipment for the project. We borrowed money and invested in this machinery that is lying idle,” he said.
The contractors said what is even more infuriating is that they have to go through Mr Liu to get contracts.
“He is a broker but when he realised there is money to be made, he brought his own machinery,” Mr Wanjohi said.
When contacted, Mr Liu, who leases out excavators, crawlers and shovels to the project, said the contractor asked him to provide the equipment.
“SGR chose me. I have 30 machines but I am hiring out only eight or nine to them,” he said.