NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
The rising cost of living in Kenya amid growing
demand for workers has pushed up labor charges in the
construction industry, putting many developers on the edge.
Those whose wages
have risen significantly include electricians, masons,
carpenters, welders and plumbers.
Their pay has been
on the rise for the better part of this year as the construction
sector booms following political stability.
However, an increase
in the cost of living arising from high fares, rent and
electricity prices following the introduction of fuel tax has
seen the workers demand for more.
It now costs up to
25 U.S. dollars a day to hire a worker, a rise from between 8
dollars for a semi-skilled who mixes sand and cement and 12
dollars for a skilled mason.
semi-skilled work are currently demanding 10 dollars for a day’s
work while masons 15 dollars. Electricians, plumbers and
carpenters are asking for 25 dollars a day, up from 20 dollars.
“The cost of living
in the country has really gone up, so we cannot retain the old
rates,” said Samson Jaoko, a mason in Nairobi, on Tuesday. “We
have to meet our daily needs.”
who cannot honor new wage demands are facing tough times as
workers shun their projects.
Jaoko is currently
working at a site in Nairobi’s South B district, where the
developer is building a six-story building.
“When we started
working, 20 of us, we were being paid 12 dollars for masons like
us, but we asked him to increase to 14 dollars. The cement
mixers are now earning 9 dollars, up from 7 dollars, a day,” he
Bernard Muia, a
banker building a house in Juja on the outskirts of Nairobi,
said construction has become expensive.
“I have been
building my house step by step subject to availability of funds.
When I started nearly two years ago, I was paying masons 8
dollars and the other workers 5 dollars (a day). Now charges
have doubled, making construction very expensive,” he said.
Musyoka noted that workers are demanding higher wages because of
the high cost of living.
“The cost of living
has doubled and we workers who do not have monthly pay are
bearing the brunt. The thing is that one does not know when the
next job would come,” he said. “So, you have to ask for a good
wage to plan for rent, take your children to school and save
Inflation in Kenya
last month stood at 5.7 percent, up from 4.04 percent, on rise
in fuel prices following the imposition of an 8 percent value
added tax, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
House rent for
single rooms, where many construction workers live, went up
slightly by 0.1 percent last month but was 5.5 percent higher
than last year.
Prices for kerosene,
which many workers use for cooking, rose 67 percent, as a result
of government tax.
Antony Kuyo of Avent
Properties, a real estate consultancy, said construction
workers’ wages have hit the roof.
“It is now really
expensive to build a house, thanks to the high wages. But it is
the consumers who are paying the highest price because the
charges are passed to them in terms of rent and higher prices of
houses for those buying,” he said.
Kuyo does not see
wages in the sector coming down in the near future due to rapid
construction of houses and rise in cost of living.