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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 1 March 2015

How KPA cartels mint millions from job seekers 

Our Reporter

Hundreds of job seekers have been swindled millions of shillings by a cartel operating at the port of Mombasa.
The fraudsters comprising men and women have taken advantage of the commissioning of new berth number 19 by the East African heads of state led by Uhuru Kenyatta early last year to perfect their scheme of conning unsuspecting job seekers.
Some job seekers have parted with as much as Sh200,000 to the conartists who pose as linkmen to senior KPA managers from human resources department.  They claim to be undertaking a recruitment of people to work at the container terminal berth number 19. Other sources however, pointed fingers at a senior manager in the department of being actually the godfather of the recruitment scam.
When your favourite Weekly Citizen exposed the racket last November, KPA management seemingly did not bother to act. But last week, KPA general manager in-charge of human resource and administration Salim Chingabwi admitted the existence of the cartels which he said have swindled unsuspecting job seekers of unknown amount of money.
“It has been established that a well organised group of fraudsters has been preying on unsuspecting people in major towns across the country from whom they demand money promising to help them secure jobs at KPA. The authority was alarmed by upsurge of number of people claiming to have paid to get jobs,” said Chingabwi in newspaper adverts.
Chingabwi added thus: “The authority wishes to alert the public to be wary of such fraudsters or conmen that extort money on the pretext that they will avail employment opportunities. The parastatal has clear structures for filling vacant positions when they arise and this includes advertising them in daily newspapers to give all Kenyans an equal opportunity to apply”.
Investigations revealed that some of the tricks used by the fraudsters include saving numbers of fellow accomplices in their mobile phones with names of known KPA human resource managers to dupe their targets. And once a victim is identified, the fake KPA human resource manager is called and the phone put on voice-over mode so that the conversation is loud enough to be heard by the job seeker.
The person on the other end who pretends to be the one offering jobs at KPA asks for a certain amount of money supposedly for facilitation claiming the employment chances were limited and that he was only doing favour to the job seeker because he or she was “taken for employment” by his very good friend.
And we correctly predicted in November that it was just a matter of time before the scam exploded and the port police swarmed with complaints from conned Kenyans some of whom are poor villagers who have had to sale livestock to raise money to ‘pay’ for their children’s employment at Kenya Ports Authority.
Berth number 19 which cost over Sh19 billion to put up will require additional staff to be hired by KPA management or the concessionaire to work at the expanded container terminal. But port sources said the process of hiring workers was yet to begin.
Meanwhile, a coast lobby group has demanded for the immediate repossession of all Kenya Ports Authority grabbed land. Alex Kasuku, the founder of Pwani Ni Kenya lobby said it is unacceptable for the KPA plots to continue being in grabbers hands yet an agency, the National Land Commission, headed by Mohammed Swazuri was created by the constitution to deal with land injustices in the country.
“I call upon Swazuri to move with speed and reposes the KPA ‘Labour Compound’ and other KPA plots in Jomvu, Miritini, Kizingo, Nyali, Kilifi and Kwale that have fallen in private hands. It is most shocking that the KPA MD did not document any grabbing to the NLC when the agency requested parastatals and other government institutions with land issues to forward their complaints. Let Gichiri Ndua be investigated because there is no one in Mombasa who doesn’t know that KPA is a victim of massive land grabbing,” said Kasuku.