Railway company, locals in Kenya stand with China in face of outbreak

Railway company, locals in Kenya stand with China in face of outbreak

by DengFei Foundation February 08 14:29PM

By Otiato Opali and Liu Hongjie in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-02-07 21:42

Students from Nairobi’s Mathare slum hold placards in support of China during their solidarity with China parade. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

As China steps up the fight against the novel coronavirus, a railway management company in Kenya has raised more than $33,000 to provide support in the battle against the outbreak.

On Jan 5 Africa Star Railway Operation Company or Afristar, a Chinese company that operates the Kenyan Standard Gauge Railway, submitted a donation drawn from employees in its departments, workshops and stations.

Speaking at the company’s headquarters in Nairobi, Li Jiuping, general manager of Afristar, said they decided to do something to support China’s effort to confront the virus out of concern for their motherland.

“Initially we planned to organize contributions among Chinese staff, but when local colleagues heard about the initiative they volunteered to participate, and we were deeply moved by their gesture,” Li said.

Li added 610 Chinese employees and 182 Kenyan employees participated in the contribution drive. He also confirmed that as a company, they are working closely with the Chinese Embassy in Kenya to form a contingency plan.

“Wu Peng, the Chinese ambassador to Kenya, is very concerned about our safety operations and we have talked on several occasions about this. We totally support the embassy’s 14-day quarantine suggestion for Chinese coming back to Kenya from China,” Li said. “We have also informed our Chinese colleagues who are in China for the Spring Festival holiday not to travel back to Kenya unless it is unavoidable.”

Speaking on behalf of Afristar’s local workers, Harisson Kinyanjui, who serves as the company’s comprehensive staff manager, said Kenyan workers at the company felt the need to stand with China due to the cordial working relationship they have with the Chinese company — and the fact that as human beings, it is important to stand with those going through difficulties.

Afristar’s general manager Li Jiuping, center, holds messages of goodwill with other staff members at the company’s headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

“Having worked with the Chinese people, we have developed close ties and friendships with them and some of our members of staff were in Wuhan as recently as four months ago for training sponsored by our company, and that is why we are ready to offer them any support we can,” Kinyanjui said. “Our message to the Chinese people is that it shall be well. We have confidence they will find a solution and we guarantee them our support in any way we can. “

Elsewhere in Nairobi’s Mathare slums, the Dreams Building Services Association, which works with the Chinese government and businesses to provide daily lunch for nine schools in the slum, also organized a show of solidarity with the Chinese people.

On Jan 6, students from schools supported by China through the DBSA marched through the slum to express their unity with the people of China and raise awareness among locals about the challenge facing Chinese people.

Speaking after the event, Loice Abanga, program officer for DBSA, said the students and their parents managed to raise some funds to help.

“The Chinese community in Kenya has always been ready to help our children in the slums, and that is why during this time of hardship, we want to assure them we stand with them, we wish quick recovery to the infected and send our condolences to the bereaved families,” Abanga said.

According to Li, Afristar has bought infrared thermometers and 1,000 masks which will be used to protect their passengers and staff if necessary. The company has also acquired disinfectant to clean out stations and carriages.

Some students who took part in the march to express solidarity with China in Nairobi’s Mathare slum. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]