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Firm career path enables Kenyan man to find feet in society

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily | Updated: 2023-10-07 09:10

Brian Masengeli (right) monitors the flow of traffic at his station. OTIATO OPALI/CHINA DAILY

In August 2021, Brian Masengeli struggled to find work after graduating from Kenya's South Eastern Kenya University. The only job he came across was one as a data entry intern at a local company.

But something magical happened when he answered a recruitment advertisement in a newspaper that his father gave him, for a position at the Nairobi Expressway then under construction by the China Road and Bridge Corporation. It then set the young man on a firm career path.

The road was one of the flagship projects in Kenya under the Belt and Road Initiative. The Moja Expressway company, a public-private partnership under the Chinese group, was recruiting 36 toll collectors and two financial clerks for the major transportation link.

He was among the lucky few among 25,000 local job seekers to be called for interviews.

"On landing the job in November, we took thorough theoretical and practical training for four months," he said.

The 27-kilometer Nairobi Expressway, connecting the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the city's Westlands area, is a toll road. CRBC financed $646.3 million to construct the road, interchanges and toll stations. It collects the toll fees until its investment is recovered.

The expressway has helped reduce a two-hour journey to about 20 minutes, Masengeli said, a significant improvement on the economic front because it saves fuel and time for ordinary commuters, especially for business owners. It has also eased congestion on Kenyan roads.

"We started working officially in May 2022 and my first role was as a toll collector. Because of my dedication, hard work and due diligence, after working for just a month as a toll collector, I was promoted to the ticketing office where I worked as an assistant toll station master for about one year and two months," he said.

In March this year, Steve Zhao, Moja Expressway's chief executive officer, promoted him to be the first local toll station master. The position was previously held by Chinese experts as local staff members learned from them.

Masengeli said: "Working at the expressway has been a big transformation for me as an individual because I come from a humble background and this job has enabled me to find my feet in society.

"I have also been able to start and support my own young family through this job," said Masengeli, who is married and has a 2-year-old daughter.

Having worked with Chinese experts, Masengeli found them straightforward and admires the fact that "they expect you to learn and give you the opportunity and guidance to do so". This, he said, helps in inculcating honesty, integrity and due diligence in the workers.

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