RVR staff in Uganda boycott work

Thursday August 3 2017

A Rift Valley Railways train wagon at the Kampala station. FILE PHOTO 

A Rift Valley Railways train wagon at the Kampala station. FILE PHOTO | MONITOR 

By JULIUS BARIGABA
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Troubled Rift Valley Railways (RVR’s) staff in Uganda went on strike last month, leaving commuters stranded and businesses worried about their cargo yet to transported from Kenya which is holding elections next week.

Over 400 workers downed their tools on July 26 demanding to be paid their salaries for June and July amounting to about $300,000 (Ush1 billion), the employees’ union said.

The Uganda Railways Workers Union (URWU’s) secretary-general Victor Byemaro told The EastAfrican that the staff is also demanding that an internal provident fund scheme with Alexander Forbes which was introduced in 2006 when the firm took the reins be terminated immediately “because RVR could no longer sustain it”.

According to correspondence seen by The EastAfrican, the company, which runs the century-old Kenya-Uganda railway, had failed to remit money it was deducting its workers to the fund manager for the last six months.

RVR is also reported to be in arrears, since February, on contributions to the National Social Security Fund.

The Uganda staff boycott has however been overshadowed by a High Court ruling in Nairobi on July 31 that terminated its 25-year contract with Kenya Railways, the concession manager, due to RVR’s failures to meet conditions under the agreement signed in 2006.

The firm is required to hand over all concessioned assets to Kenya Railways by the end of the month.

The Nairobi ruling is seen to give impetus to Uganda Railways Corporation, the concession manager in Kampala, which has also been in the process of ending the RVR deal.

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