National Construction Authority warns developers using fake contractors

Friday, June 12th, 2020 00:00 |
The residential building that collapsed in Kericho town on Tuesday, killing one and injuring tens of others. Photo/PD/PHILLIP YEGON

Construction watchdog National Construction Authority asks public to report illegal, unqualified contractors on sites to police, blames the fraudsters for collapse of buildings.

Property developers have been cautioned against hiring unregistered contractors by the National Construction Authority (NCA), who the regulator blames for the rising cases of sub-standard buildings in the country.

“Persons masquerading as duly licensed service providers in the construction industry have been obtaining money by false pretenses from members of the public under the guise of offering services or works for which they are not authorised to do,” NCA said in a notice. 

Further, the NCA notice has affirmed that only registered professionals are allowed by law to offer design and related implementation services on construction projects. 

“Engaging non-registered persons is not only in contravention of the law, but is also dangerous as it will produce poor quality construction work,” NCA Executive Director Maurice Akech said in the notice. 

NCA has also advised members of the public to verify the standing of any contractor by visiting its website while also verifying professional standing with respective professional bodies—Engineers Board of Kenya, and the Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors.

Akech has also called on the public to report to the nearest police station or to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) any persons ‘practicing’ without appearing on respective regulatory or professional registers.

EACC is the State anti-graft body that gathers information on corruption occurring in government and the public sector for action such as prosecution in courts of law

“Failure to register construction projects with the NCA is also a punishable offense.

In addition, the Authority has the authority to stop on-going construction where the project fails to meet the regulatory requirements,” Akech warned.

NCA officials inspect a construction site in Ndenderu, Kiambu county. Photo/PD/SETH ONYANGO 

Frester Engineering and General Contractors Limited’s Managing Director, Fred Mutanya, says the warning by NCA is long overdue. He laments illegal contactors have for long taken jobs from certified builders.  

Mutanya blames the frequent collapse of buildings in the country on shoddy works done by illegal contractors who secure jobs after getting into kienyenji (fake) deals with developers.

He also singled out the Kenya Bureau of Standards for failing to ensure substandard building materials and equipment are not imported into the country.

According to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), illegal contractors and collapse of buildings come from temptations due to opportunities in a booming construction sector in the past decade.

This has created a huge market for building materials and rogue traders are taking advantage of this demand to introduce counterfeit products in local markets.

From uncertified steel to pipes and low quality fittings, the market is now flooded with fake, cheap goods that target buyers trying to save money by cutting on costs of building materials.

KRA recently said the most counterfeited construction materials are steel rods, pipe and pipefittings, valves, electric equipment, fasteners, roofing materials and cement. The products are mainly sourced from China, Dubai, Japan, Korea, and India.

Collapsed buildings

In March, the government blacklisted 15 road-constructing firms, according to Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia.

The government’s move follows a new policy by the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) to list non-performing firms contracted to work on different projects.

Akech now says NCA has waived penalties on pending renewal fees for annual practicing licenses for contractors in order to enable more specialists to comply with the law.

The frequent cases of collapse of buildings in Kenya have become a major concern among all the stakeholders in the local construction industry. 

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

NCA found that 58 per cent of buildings in Nairobi were unfit for habitation. This means only 42 per cent of the structures in the city were found fit for habitation.

Mutanya cautions builders against buying counterfeit goods since the use of counterfeit products in Kenya has had serious repercussions leading to damage of property and loss of innocent lives.

Josphine Musa, a consulting engineer says the local market is currently pervaded by counterfeit products and the construction industry has its fair share of these goods.

“Most of these materials are weak, therefore unable to support a building,” she says.

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