Nairobi Metropolitan services (NMS) boss Mohammed Badi has faced backlash over his admission that he employed street children to complete projects in the city.
During an interview on Citizen TV earlier in the week, Badi admitted that he had hired street children to tarmac Grogan Road in Nairobi CBD.
“The street children are some of the most effective workers I have seen. The street families have actually built the Grogan road into a modern international road which will soon be commissioned,’ he stated.
Watch the video of NMS Boss interview below:
The NMS boss further stated that the street families were very useful to NMS especially when it came to safeguarding building equipment as he did not have to incur storage fees.
“Any material, whether it is gravel, stone, or wires when I place on the ground, they sleep on them and nobody can steal,” he stated.
He further stated that the street families would begin work from 7 am to 7 pm on an ordinary shift that made the job move faster.
His sentiments resulted in backlash from a section of Kenyans online who claimed that he were promoting child labour.
“Here is Gen Badi boasting about his exploitation of child labor – kids working 12hr shifts while sleeping on the streets and then being delegitimized as non-Kenyans and a menace, to boot,” said media consultant Patrick Gathara.
Political Activist Shailja Patel also chimed in noting that using unhoused children to build roads violates Article 53 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010; section 56 of the Employment Act 2007; section 7 of the Children Act 2001; and section Industrial Training Act 1960.
“They are kids. GoK bragging about abusing and exploiting kids, instead of empowering them.”
“Child labour robs the children of their human dignity. This is not how an open democratic society based on human dignity, freedom, and equity operates,” Edwin Kimani stated.
Section 56 of the Employment Act 2007, prohibits employing a child below 13 years to any form of undertaking. However, it allows employment of children from the ages of 13 to 16 years for light work and defines those of 16 to 18 as employable.
The Act, however, does not clearly define the parameters for this employment. It does not define light work and does not provide protection for children in such employment, but leaves it at the discretion of the minister.
In section 58 and 59, the minimum age for employment in an industrial undertaking is 16, unless he/she is an apprentice under the Industrial Training Act (Cap. 237, Laws of Kenya).
The law also puts a time limit for a child in an industrial undertaking to between 6:30 am to 6:30 pm.