Kenya’s workers fear for their pensions as the country cries ‘scandal’

Samwel Wambiri stands in his home located on the Tassia II land, on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. (Jacob Kushner/GlobalPost)

A botched investment by Kenya’s social security agency may delay workers’ retirement benefits, make a Chinese construction firm richer and leave thousands of small landowners with nothing.

By Anthony Langat and Jacob Kushner
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NAIROBI, Kenya—This, says Samuel Wambiri, is how corruption can disrupt a life in Kenya.

Ten years ago, the 54-year-old father of three purchased a small plot of land on the outskirts of Nairobi for a modest 315,000 shillings. That’s about $3,700, which Wambiri agreed to pay over 10-years. And upon that land, Wambiri built a home where he and his wife could retire.

But last month, just as Wambiri had finished paying it off, the agency that sold him the land announced some troubling news: Wambiri would have to pay 920,000 shillings, or $10,824 more — four times more than his original investment. That’s because the Nairobi County governor decided Kenya’s National Social Security Fund (NSSF), which sold the land, needed to build a sewage system and access roads through it at significant cost.

The NSSF announced it would transfer the cost of the utilities to the landowners themselves.

“I was happy that I had finally finished paying for my land,” Wambiri said. “I was looking for somewhere to settle, and I settled.”
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But now, Wambiri and an estimated 5,500 fellow small-parcel landowners in Nairobi’s Tassia II neighborhood may be forced to vacate their new land altogether if they don’t find a way to pay the bill.

Read the full story at GlobalPost.