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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 30 November 2014

TOO MANY EXPATRIATES AS LOCAL STAFF SUFFER AT SAROVA HOTELS

Sarova Hotels is famous for having some of the most coveted hotels and finest camps in the country such as Sarova Stanley and Sarova Panafric in Nairobi, Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa in North Coast, Sarova Lion Hill in Nakuru, Sarova Taita Hills and Sarova Salt Lake Game Lodge all in Taita Taveta, without forgeting Sarova Mara in Maasai Mara.
However, it is said the way it is treating its senior managers after arrival of an Indian expatriate known as Kuljit Reki four years ago has led to high staff turnover of senior staff with those unable to bear his highhandedness and incompetence opting to look for greener pastures in other hotels.
Disillusioned staff cannot understand why the hotel chain is on hiring spree of Indian expatriates who add little or no value to the hotel group.
“They have hired more than 14 senior managers whom they are paying thousands of shillings in salaries to oversee work in house keeping, pastry, finance, engineering, food and beverage production and banqueting yet locals who have even better academic papers and vast experience are always overlooked,” said a who requested anonymity.
The group which is owned by Vohra and Kanyotu families is headed by Jaideep Vohra, commonly known as JS Vohra as the managing director, but staff feel he is too soft, has lost the plot and is easily influenced by Kuljit whom he has given free reign to run the multi-billion minting hospitality group.
Staff say Kuljit who is easily irritated when giving instructions to Kenyans has overstayed his mandate in the country. He frustrates senior managers and those who stand on the platform of truth are arbitrarily fires or asked to silently resign. This is the fate that befell one Anthony Ngunga, who was general manager of Sarova Panafric.
“He came here four years ago as DOO but he has refused to leave yet he came on a short work permit which by now should be expired,” said Daniel. “He should have handed over to a Kenyan as his successor,” a worker insists, adding that this is the law on expatriates.
Daniel recalls that it was only four months ago when two general managers of Sarova Stanley and Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa were unceremoniously replaced with an Indian and Italian known as Paolo Marro. “Marro is particularly very arrogant when dealing with Africans. A snobbish and arrogant manager. Staff hate him and he knows that,” said a worker.
He says his workmates are unhappy and are on a go-slow and feel overlooked by Vohra management in promotions. “No wonder last year, Mohammed Hersi, the general manager of the Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa and regional manager Coast for Sarova Hotels, also overseeing the two safari lodges Taita Hills and Salt Lick, resigned to become managing director of Voyager Hotels
He was the star of Sarova for 10 years the reason for the remarkable transformation of the resort into a true five-star. “I am sure Hersi left after he was frustrated by the influx of powerful expatriates. Vohra also never listened to him anymore like he never to senior african managers,” said the worker.
“It is disheartening that we are the ones doing the donkey work but our pay is meagre compared to these expatriates who take home 1/3 of the entire group payslip,” disclosed a frustrated Daniel, adding that he and his fellow workers have no one to run to, since all channels of communication have been closed on them by Kuljit.
Daniel says apart from using abusive language against junior staff, the expatriates know nothing about their work and depend on excellence and creativity of Kenyans to impress the senior bosses and gullible Vohra.
“Take for example Sarova Group director of food and beverage Shailender Singh who earns a million plus in salary and a raft of other benefits. What’s so special in what he does- managing the kitchens, developing new menus and stewarding functions that a Kenyan cannot do?”
The staff are calling upon Phyllis Kandie, cabinet secretary ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism to come to their rescue and lift the rot that is being swept under Sarova carpet by series of global awards and massive profits which in essence camouflage the suffering of staff.