The 8,000 member Kenya Railways Staff Retirement Benefit Scheme annual general meeting aborted yesterday as the long-running battle between the retirees and fund managers came to ahead.
The meeting was called off after the retirees staged a noisy protest accusing managers of the Sh31 billion pension fund of mismanagement.
The AGM, which had earlier been postponed, failed to kick off as members shouted down a representative from the Retirement Benefits Authority demanding the removal of the corporate trustee and the scheme’s chief executive officer. The last AGM was held in 2014.
“We’re not going to allow any further fleecing by these trustees and it is time we take control of our assets. We were given a cow by our sponsor but if those we entrusted to take care of it cannot give us milk, then let us take our cow back. We the poorest billionaires in town,” said Aggrey Simiyu, a former senior Kenya Railways manager.
The retiree who is now a member of a steering committee driving the new approach to manage the multi-billion shilling pension wealth said they had planned to propose the formation of a Railway Pension Management Company run by the pensioners to salvage the struggling scheme.
The scheme’s troubles however lie in the fact that while it is rich in real estate assets (valued at about Sh30 billion) it all remains illiquid and monthly rent collections from its holdings do not match its monthly obligations to the retirees.
Attempts to sell some of the assets have meanwhile been stalled by litigation in the courts.
Some retirees under the umbrella of the Kenya Railway Pensioners Association had written to the Retirement Benefits Authority Chief Executive Edward Odundo seeking to kick out both the Corporate Trustees (Corporate and Pension Trust Services Limited) and the Chief Executive Officer Simon Nyakundi.
Mr Nyakundi said a fresh attempt will be made to hold another AGM but could not tell the timeframe as he was waiting for guidance from the Trustees.
‘We have written to both the regulator (RBA)and the sponsor (Kenya Railways Corporation)because this was an abnormal occurrence. Once a response is relayed to us through the corporate trustees then we will know the way forward We will still have to hold the AGM though, I can’t tell you when,” Mr Nyakundi said.
The pensioners who had turned in large numbers from across the country left railway club a dejected lot after the meeting ended even before it had started.