MOMBASA- Over 500 recruitment and job placement agencies have been blacklisted and banned by government in its bid to safeguard the rights and welfare of Kenyans seeking jobs abroad.
Labour and Skills Development Principal Secretary Shadrack Mwadime made the announcement on Tuesday in Mombasa, where he said investigations into more agencies are ongoing.
“It is true that there are almost 1,000 agencies that have deceived Kenyans, but we have reduced that number, and we are continuing with the vetting process. Do not be lured by agencies simply because they claim to send people abroad,” PS Mwadime said at a press conference at the National Industrial Training Authority, where he was on a familiarization tour.
PS said rogue and illegal agents pose dangers to desperate Kenyans seeking jobs abroad, adding that those suspected of failing to follow legal and policy requirements and engaging in fraudulent practises, will face legal consequences.
And for Kenyans to avoid falling to the trap of such agents, the PS advised that they to use the National Employment Agency website to verify the authorised agencies.
In July this year, Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore announced the government had deregistered 400 recruiting agencies out of close to 1,000 that have been operating in the country.
CS Bore said the move was effected after comprehensive vetting showed there are many rogue companies, some without physical offices, warning that the joint crackdown and vetting would continue “to establish what they do”.
“We now have 500 employment companies with valid licences. That tells you there have been many out tricking Kenyans who, out of desperation, look for jobs but aren’t absorbed,” CS Bore said.
She spoke during an event to mark International Day against Trafficking in Persons.
Bore said the ministry has put in place strict rules to stop the proliferation of the rogue agencies, noting that vetting on those already given green light to operate will be done yearly.
The recruitment agencies have in the past accused of trafficking Kenyans, especially young girls and women, to the Middle East, where they dump them upon arrival.
Employers in the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, have been dogged by allegations of physically, mentally and sexually abusing their migrant housekeepers for years, cases that have seen some domestic workers return in coffins.
Women who go to Saudi Arabia through unregistered agencies often face heightened risk of abuse and unethical practices, with rights groups reporting some workers sign contracts in Arabic, with no understanding of the language, for jobs they are often lied to about.