The two day demonstration has caused losses for traders
As the East African Standard Gauge Railway programme is ongoing in the country, over 30 workers repairing and maintaining the old Kenya-Uganda Railway from Magamaga to Kawolo blocked the railway line with sticks, tree branches and unplugged the rails.
Under their umbrella ‘Arise Youth Community Group’, they blocked and unplugged the rails, demanding for their unpaid arrears for a period of five months as casual labourers.
The group led by their chairperson Thomas Ssunga claim they have by all means approached the authorities but all in vain. They said the employers didn’t pick their calls or give them any feedback on the arrears.
“As a lead contractor, I came up with these casual labourers and signed a long term contract with the Rift Valley Railway Authority.
Since 2014, our payments were directly being received from Nairobi and it was always on time but after the higher authorities decided to remit them from Kampala, our payments stopped five months back” Ssunga said.
“So we decided to lay our protests from Bukaya-Njeru Central Division in Buikwe District” added Ssunga who said as a contractor they have been given annual contracts since 2014.
The two day demonstration has caused losses for traders.
Ssunga said his team will only let the trains move if all their payments are settled.
Njeru Division OC Julius Tugumenawe however tried to calm the protestors and convened a meeting.
“It’s your constitutional right to demand for your arrears but I condemn the act of blocking the railway line and the trains” Tugumenawe told the protestors.
“This can antagonize the country as the trains carry food, medicine and other useful products for both countries so we may be here when our brothers and sisters in Adjumani or any other area are suffering because of medicine or any product which must be in transit on the trains” Tugumenawe added.
Rift Valley Railways regional security officer Nodin Muzee asked the protestors to remain calm.
Muzee told New Vision that the workers will be paid within two weeks.