Investors lose Sh2b in collapsed buildings, says engineers’ board

Thursday, September 9th, 2021 00:00 |
Kiambu Governor James Nyoro (right) receives a gift hamper from the Engineers Board of Kenya officials at the county headquarters on Monday. Photo/PD/Clement KamaU

Rogue contractors blamed for the frequent collapse of buildings continue to run wild in the real estate sector, costing the country billions of shillings and leaving behind anger and frustration among thousands of people left homeless. 

Despite the setting up of National Construction Authority (NCA) in 2011, the industry still features cowboy contractors and collapsing buildings. The latest being two buildings in Kinoo and Gachie, both Kiambu county.

Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK) says private developers have lost close to Sh2 billion this year after their buildings collapsed due to poor workmanship.

EBK chief excutive Margaret Ogai said apart from losing lives, the monetary erosion amid the pandemic was a major setback to the economy.

Ogai, who spoke during a meeting convened by Kiambu Governor James Nyoro at the county headquarters, urged developers to engage professional engineers to safeguard lives and investments.

“Most buildings collapse due to weak foundation, substandard building materials, poor structural designs and unqualified labour but this can be avoided if due process is followed to the letter,” she added. 

During the meeting rogue government officials in agencies mandated with inspection of buildings were accused of corruption and inefficiencies.

The event was attended by among others; experts from the board, NCA, National Environment Management Authority and officers in the infrastructure sector.

Nyoro had convened the meeting to get professional advice on the probable causes of infrastructure collapses following the Kinoo and Gachie incidents.

It was also established that corrupt inspectors, after receiving bribes, normally turn a blind eye malpractices resulting in fatalities and massive financial loss. 

A report by Kenya Alliance of Resident Association (KARA) shows that 87 buildings have collapsed in various parts of the country in the past five years and an estimated 200 lives lost besides 1,000 people sustaining injuries over the same period.

Circumvent regulations

Nyoro said lack of co-ordination among stakeholders was to blame as rogue developers circumvent regulations to hurriedly put up residential and commercial houses without approvals from the county government. 

“We are cognisant of the fact that multiplicity of requirements may delay the developers from moving on and that’s why we are planning to come up with a one-stop shop where all the requirements will be processed,” he said.

Nyoro who was flanked by Kiambu County Commissioner Wilson Wanyanga and the area police boss Ali Nunoh said that he would reach out to all governors and prevail upon them to ensure that all constructions are done through thorough co-ordination among all stakeholders.

“This team has prevailed upon me to reach out to my counterparts and tell them that failure to follow the due process is a disaster in the making across the country,” he said.

In 2015, after eight buildings collapsed and killed 15 people, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered an audit of all the country’s buildings to see if they were up to code.

The National Construction Authority found that 58 per cent of buildings in Nairobi were unfit for habitation.

Nathaniel Mataranga, EBK official  further urged Kenyans to act as whistle blowers whenever they see substandard structures being put up in their localities.

More on News