Hundreds of youth camped outside the First Choice recruitment agency office in Eldoret, yesterday demanding a refund of millions of shillings paid to the agency to secure them jobs abroad and especially at the World Cup set to start in November this year.
Over 5,000 youths from Uasin Gishu County are said to have been conned of millions of shillings in a well-orchestrated scheme promising jobs in foreign countries.
According to the victims, they paid between KSh. 50,000 and KSh. 1 million for a chance to work abroad. One of the victims of the scheme, Kennedy Kipchirchir recounted his painful ordeal.
“I paid a registration fee of KSh. 12,000 and part of commission fee of KSh. 200,000. I also had to add another KSh. 200,000 to go to Poland, though it never happened. When the process failed I was told to change my destination to UK, after paying KSh. 50,000 they helped me get an attachment letter and I started attending classes.”
Pauline Ambaka was promised she would travel to Qatar in June but despite her high hopes, she is yet to leave the country.
“I paid KSh. 40,000 for a slot to work in Qatar in June. In June, I was told to wait for August and when August came they said I would fly out after elections.”
Others like Cheruiyot Yegon have lost KSh. 80,000 having applied for two slots.
After failing to get a solution to their woes, the angry and frustrated youth sought help to regain their money from the Uasin Gishu Commissioner’s office.
In May last year, the company successfully secured 200 slots for youths to get employment opportunities in Poland and celebrated in an event graced by Labour CS Simon Chelugui and a host of other leaders from Uasin Gishu County.
This publicised success legitimized the efforts of the company inspiring confidence among many youths.
” I personally participated in the first bunch of around 230, together with Governor Mandago, wakienda Poland, ” said Mohamed Mwabodza, Deputy County Commission, Turbo Subcounty.
First Choice Managing Director Judy Jepchirchir attributes the challenge to the delay of World Cup in Qatar.
“Just to inform our parents and public that we are legit and we are promising that we are going to deliver as our promise and we are going to give them for the short period we agreed and after that, they will come back and those who will still be interested, we will take them back.”
Nick Omito, Eldoret-based Rights Activist has criticised the company’s behaviour and communication saying, “You cannot steal money from a child looking for money, then you keep lying to them.”
Turbo Deputy commissioner, Mohammed Mwabodza said the matter has been handed over to the Department of Criminal Investigation.
World Bank data shows 5.7 percent of Kenya’s labour force was out of work in 2021, up from 2.8 percent when the Jubilee administration took over in 2013.
Kenya has a youth bulge, with 18-34-year-olds making up 25 percent of the population, and those below 15 making up 43 percent. This is the same group that is hugely affected by unemployment.