Kenya Association of Private Employment Agencies (KAPEA) officials led by chairman David Njoroge, addressing a press conference. PHOTO/COURTESY
By OUR CORRESPONDENT
More than 1,000 migrant workers recruitment agencies in Kenya have asked the Government to revoke licenses of health facilities testing workers going to work in Gulf States for breach of contract.
The agencies under their umbrella organization Kenya Association of Private Employment Agencies (KAPEA) said the Gulf Approved Medical Centres Association (GAMCA) was using its monopoly to provide medical testing for Kenyans travelling to Gulf States to exploit them.
KAPEA national chairman David Njoroge said it has emerged that many applicants who go for tests conducted by GAMCA approved clinics ended up being disqualified for failing the medical tests and end up incurring extra costs in repeat tests.
“GAMCA approved centres were only licensed to provide testing of Kenyan migrant workers heading to Gulf States but today they are engaging in treatment of applicants who fail their tests before they can be cleared to travel,” he said.
Mr Njoroge asked the relevant government agencies to investigate activities of five GAMCA approved centres namely; Tai Medical Testing Centre, Bayan Medical Testing Centre, Nairobi Outpatient Testing Centre, Check-Up Medical Centre and City Health Testing Centre for allegedly breaching provisions of their contracts.
“Fifty percent of applicants who go for testing in these centres are told they have failed the tests and require treatment before their applications are approved, when we take some of them to other hospitals they are given a clean bill of health,” Mr Njoroge said.
The KAPEA chairman said the rejection of a huge number applicants and the centres insistence on treating them before undergoing fresh tests was not only exploitative but in breach of the Bilateral Labour Agreements the Gulf States entered into with the Kenyan government.
We were still trying to get a comment from the Director Medical Services at the time of filing this story.
Mr Njoroge who was flanked by other KAPEA officials said while each applicant is required to pay Ksh 8,800 or US$88 for medical test before travelling to either Saudi Arabia or Qatar, they were forced to pay more money for treatment before they undergo fresh tests.
“The GAMCA medical testing centres are exploiting our poor migrant workers going to Gulf States and we want the government to intervene immediately and stop this blatant exploitation,” he said.
Mr Njoroge said Kenya has a robust medical sector including those with highly equipped medical facilities and he did not understand why (GAMCA) centres were given a monopoly to test Kenyan migrant workers going to work in Gulf States.
“We want the Ministry of Health to appoint some of the well known hospitals in the country to provide the services being offered by GAMCA approved medical testing centres because of abusing their monopoly,” he said.
Under the Gulf States hiring policies, foreign workers are required to pass the medical tests conducted only by GAMCA clinics that use the “referral decking system.”
The “referral decking system” is a centralized medical referral system established in 2001 by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states — Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain supposedly to stop the proliferation of fake medical certificates and the transfer of communicable diseases from foreign workers to citizens of the GCC-member countries.
However, KAPEA has accused GAMCA approved clinics for operating like a cartel as they allegedly connive with each other to reap profit from charging exorbitant extra medical fees for treatment of those who fail tests.