Firms urge Kenya to lift ban on hiring of workers abroad

The Political and Diplomatic secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Patrick Wamoto said the government had suspended the recruitment of Kenyans to work in the Middle East following rampant cases of abuse on June 22, 2012. Photo/FILE

Kenya's recruitment firms have urged the government to lift suspension on hiring of workers to the Middle East.

The ban, which was effected last week has affected close to 150 recruitment agencies across Kenya. Read (State freezes rush for jobs in S. Arabia)

Sazuju General Agencies Managing Director, Abdullkadir Juma Ali accused the Foreign Affairs ministry for “an abrupt and indiscriminate” action which has grounded their activities.

“I have visas and other travel documents for ten youth who were to leave the country next week for Saudi Arabia as domestic workers. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs ought to have issued a notice so that we put in place mitigation measures,” Mr Ali told Nation.

He said his agency earns USD1000 (Sh85,000) recruitment commission for a single domestic worker.

“We are tax compliant and play a crucial role in ensuring there is flow of direct investment in the country unlike other unscrupulous agents responsible for all this mess,” he said.

Unscrupulous agents

He appealed to the government to exempt accredited recruitment agencies from the ban saying they have been recruiting within the legal framework.

He said that there was no reason for them to be victimised in the war against unscrupulous agents.

He said unscrupulous agents were responsible for the mistreatment of Kenyans working as domestic workers in Saudi Arabia.

“When this outcry began, we decided to form an association to streamline our work. We are at the final stage and the Registrar of Companies is awaiting directives from the Ministry of Labour before issuing our organisation with a certificate of registration,” he said.

He said the unregistered association known as Kenya Foreign Recruitment and Employment Agents (KAFREA) has more than 150 members across the country.

“We shall request for legal mandate from the Labour ministry to vet all recruitment agencies before being issued with accreditation certificates,” said Mr Ali.

Documents required before an agent is vetted and registered by the Labour ministry include Personal Identification Number (PIN) from Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), valid municipality license, Certificate of good conduct and joint Kenya-Arab Chambers of Commerce and Industry licenses.

He blamed unregistered agents of recruiting Kenyans without investigating prospective employers in Saudi Arabia.

“The Saudia Arabia employers will not hire you as sales person if that job is not indicated on your passport. We have never received any complaint from those we have facilitated their employment” he said.

Bilateral relations

Dudus Global Agency Limited General Merchant Executive Director, Juma Hassan Mwachatamu said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should improve bilateral relations with nations that employ Kenyans.

“We heard some months ago that Foreign Affairs officials were sent to Saudia Arabia to investigate the alleged mistreatment of Kenyans. We expected a report the Labour ministry and not Foreign Affairs,” he said.

Mr Farjala Shadau Ahmed of Omfa Recruitment Limited said the suspension had cost about 380 jobseekers who have secured employment with a Saudi based group of hotels.

“I don't handle recruitments of domestic workers, therefore, we should not be banned. Four weeks ago, I recruited 32 people to work with Miraa Hotel Group, a five star hotel in Makkah as bellmen, chefs, cooks and room stewards and I was in the process of finishing travel arrangements of a second batch of 52 people destined for the same hotel,” said Mr Farjala.

He added: “The hotel management travels to Kenya and conducts interviews. Successful candidates get hired on merit and a contract with laid out terms are signed."