Road construction works on the Kopere-Timboroa road in Tinderet Sub-County, Nandi County was Thursday halted by the contractor due to pay row with workers.
The multi-million-shilling road project connecting the bigger part of Tinderet to Nandi Hills-Chemelil road on one end, and Eldoret-Nakuru highway on the other, was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto.
The dilapidated state of the road has limited accessibility in the region and the project is expected to open up the area, improve access to markets, boost agricultural production and promote local industry.
The workers employed by the construction company – Sobetra Uganda Limited, are demanding payment of delayed salaries. The workers also claim that the company has not been remitting their statutory deductions to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
The workers comprising plant operators, tipper drivers, masons and casuals demonstrated outside Sobetra Offices in Songhor and demanded an explanation.
The workers are pointing an accusing finger to the site manager Mr. Petrangeli Jnr and the Human Resource Manager a Mr. Tarus with accusations of mistreatment and threats of dismissal.
The Workers called on relevant investigative agencies to probe the allegations on infringement of their rights on remuneration and bridge of obligation to remit statutory deductions including tax.
A number of employees who spoke to the press said they were facing penalties by banks, Saccos and KRA after the company failed to remit deductions.
“My payslip is very clear that the money has been deducted but it is never remitted to NSSF and NHIF,” said an employee who sought anonymity.
An employee who declined to be named for fear of being victimised claimed that the construction company had not remitted more than Sh 60,000 income tax deducted from her salary to KRA.
“I was very shocked to learn that the company has not been remitting my PAYE to KRA for the last one year despite my payslip indicating that it has been deducted,” said the worker.
The workers also said that the company is mistreating them. According to the workers, the company has failed to provide them with the necessary proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Safety standards provide criteria for personal protective equipment, including protection for the head, feet, eyes, face, hearing and respiration.
They demanded that their issues be heard and resolved for them to return to work.
Sources also say the contractor is planning to upgrade only 35km of the 49km road provided for in their contract and exit.
Residents have raised concerns over shoddy works on the road by the contractor and employees have corroborated the claims that the company is doing substandard work on the tarmac.
Efforts to reach the Management of the construction company were unfruitful as our calls went unanswered.