Politicians, rivals are behind my woes, says jobs agency boss Judy Jepchirchir
First Choice Recruitment and Consultancy Agency director Judy Jepchirchir has claimed she is a victim of political witch hunt and business rivalry.
The 36-year-old, who is at the centre of an alleged dubious overseas jobs scandal, has pointed an accusing finger at politicians from the Rift Valley, whom she could not name. She said they were behind her tribulations.
Ms Jepchirchir said she has been in business since 2018 and her agency has been able to find work for over 7,000 people in Qatar, Dubai, Poland and the UK. However, all hell broke loose after the agency failed to send all the 2,011 applicants who had been called up to work in Qatar during the 2022 World Cup.
She said the workers, who were going for the short-term contracts, paid a Sh10,000 non-refundable medical and registration fee and a further Sh30,000 service charge.
Ms Jepchirchir claimed the agency was able to deploy 827 people to Qatar, without providing evidence, to work between two months and four months.
However, Ms Jepchirchir claimed that the remaining 1,184 did not make it because of a sudden influx of people going to Qatar, making it difficult to get documentation in time with some not meeting the clients’ requirements such as being medically unfit.
She said those who did not make it had the option to change their status to a two-year contract or cancel the contract, then seek a refund. Consequently, 600 opted to change their statuses to two-year contracts for between Sh50,000 and Sh150,000, instead of short term contracts, while another 106 surrendered their positions to their relatives.
However, she said, the circus started in September last year when a certain blogger put up a story that people were duped as the World Cup was to happen in June and not in November.
This, she said, led to most people flooding their offices to the point they were not able to work and had to relocate.
“I blame the misinformation on certain politicians and business rivals not happy with what we are doing. I don’t know why they are fighting me. Politicians have varied interests and so when their interests are not met, you become an enemy,” said Ms Jepchirchir. She claimed the outcry that met the debacle is not normal because, even after explaining why they could not deploy all the workers, it continued.
“I cannot tell the people who are fighting me but I know they are doing so because they think I want to go into politics which is not the case. We are trying to find out who is behind this,” she added. Although admitting to the debacle, she claimed they have refunded 448 individuals, again without providing proof, and refunds for 89 more are due.
“We have admitted we did not take everyone to Qatar but we are working on making sure justice is served. Those due for refunds, we are working to ensure they get their money before the end of the month,” she said.
Asked if it has taken long to refund the individuals, she said for one to be eligible for a refund, one must be placed for work within one or two months and, in case of cancellation, the refund is done within three months once one kick-starts the process.
“There are terms that we need to abide by. The money was not put in an account just waiting for a refund. We have not delayed and we are still within the terms,” she said. She claimed Mr Eliud Kipsang is due for refund next month and at no point has she kidnapped him. “Let people not lie and get involved in character assassination. No one paid Sh500,000 to go to Qatar.”
She dismissed claims that she is untouchable, saying, she has appeared before the Directorate of Criminal Investigations after the allegations.
“Let the investigative agencies do their work. If they find me guilty then I should be charged,” she said. On her missing invites by the Senate Labour committee, she defended herself, saying, she has always written to the committee explaining the reason behind her absence.
Ms Jepchirchir, although admitting her agency is yet to have its licence renewed by the National Employment Authority, said it is a normal process that always take up to six months and this does not necessarily mean that the agency is not registered.