Of compliant building projects and keeping crafty developers in check

Friday, September 17th, 2021 01:02 |

Maurice Oketch is the National Construction Authority chief executive

As the watchdog of the building and construction sector, what have been the main challenges on matters standards and quality assurance?

For most part of it, it has been dealing with unprofessionalism whereby most developers and contractors have a culture of short-cuts. The other concern for us is the legal framework and enforcement of which as much as there are many pieces of legislations that control standards, the watch- dog still requires more enforcement powers to reign on wrongdoers.

The legal amendments in March 2020 under the Business Laws Amendment Act 2020 not withstanding. Corruption is still rampant with officers who lack integrity posing a challenge in enforcement of standards. There is also inadequate harmoni- sation and awareness of construction stan- dards across the counties and the country.

We also have to look at the issues of inadequate qualified human resource to ensure quality in the construction industry.

How has NCA dealt with unscrupulous builders who operate without licenses?

Our elaborate online project registration system (OPRS) ensures no project compliance certificate is issued without a licensed con- tractor on board and supervising professionals or consultants with respective valid practicing licenses.

Our enforcement teams ensure no construction is ongoing without a contractor, otherwise works are suspended. The NCA Act was amended to penalise willful offenses and some offenders have been prosecuted in court. Also the multi-agency approach with our existing partnerships with procuring entities, banks, among others ensure no unlicensed contractors undertake any work within Kenyan boundaries.

With the aspect of technology where our robust website publishes a real-time register of contractors with good standing, we are putting pressure on builders to comply.

We have witnessed positive response through whistle-blowing and our aggressive social media campaign is favourable for flushing out wrongdoers through public complaints,naming and shaming. In any case,before any project commences, it must be registered with the NCA. Without this approval, any form of construction is considered illegal. The NCA has employed compliance officers who carry out site inspections and are duty bound to stop all illegal constructions. Developers who defy the suspension orders of the authority are considered notorious and legal action is already being taken against such.

Does NCA under its mandate allow projects running in the country with no specific time lines?

The duration of the project, both public and private is determined by the consultants and client depending on such factors as complexity and magnitude of the project, availability of funds, labour and materials to be used. NCA in carrying out its mandate, complies with other statutory laws that govern construction in this country.

Under Physical and Land Use Planning Act (PLUPA) and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), a developer is required to renew their devel- opment permit every two years the project is under construction and NCA requires the proof of this at the registration of the project and during the quality assurance exercises carried out. NCA compliance certificate is valid for 24 months and/or contract period, whichever comes first. Its expected that projects exceeding 24 months will seek renewals of their licenses.

How has the manufacturing sector been able to assist NCA to execute its role as per the construction development monitor?

In Section 5(2) of the NCA Act, the author- ity will encourage the standardisation and improvement of construction techniques and materials.

This is, especially evident in the implementation of the Big Four Agenda in which the authority is playing a key role in promoting the use of affordable alternative materials and technology developed by local manufacturers by working with other bodies, such as Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to ensure materials produced and/or imported to the country meet the standards.

Kenya Vision 2030 overall goal for the construction sector is to increase its contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) by at least 10 per cent per annum and propel Kenya towards becom- ing Africa’s industrial hub. Affordable housing is among government’s priorities in the Big Four Agenda and implies the development of adequate, standardised and well-spaced houses with continuous supply of clean water and electricity. Various manufacturing firms have partnered with NCA to equip construction workers with skills and proficiency in the use of new construction materials, such as paint and tiles.

NCA partners the Big Five Construct East Africa to bring together all sectors affiliated with the construction industry to showcase new technologies, materials and emerging trends in the construction industry.

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