By KIRERA MWITI
A major crisis has hit the largest flower farm in the country after water and electricity supply were disconnected over bills running into millions of shillings. Operations at Karuturi flower farm in Naivasha have been paralysed after the financial crisis that saw over 3,000 workers started a second month without salaries. Following the impasse, the farm’s hospital and morgue have been closed down as workers expressed fears of disease outbreak.
The irate workers took to the streets blocking the busy Moi South Lake road as they called for intervention from the Ministry of Labour and Health. A visit to the farm found toilets overflowing with human waste, drainages clogged and flowers wilting due to lack of water, chemicals and fertiliser. During the demonstration, the irate workers held hostage one of the senior managers demanding their salaries as armed police officers watched.
According to chief shopsteward Samson Ounda, the farm was in financial crisis and unable to pay salaries and statutory deductions. Ounda said that last month, they entered an agreement with the farm where workers were promised salaries today but this did not happen. “There is a big problem in this farm and workers are not ready to work until all the problems in the workplace and living quarters are addressed,” he said.
One of the workers, Jane Akinyi said that they feared disease outbreaks in their camps due to lack of water and overflowing sewerage. “Our hospital, which does not have drugs, has been closed down and it’s a matter if time before we have typhoid and cholera outbreak,” she said.
Her sentiments were echoed by Samson Ouma who said that flower production had dropped to worrying levels due to lack of chemicals and fertilisers. “We fear this company might collapse anytime and all we are seeking is our dues as we can no longer live and work in such conditions,” he said.