Most buildings in Kenyan town unsafe

January 13, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 13 – The Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) now says that half of the buildings in Kiambu town should be condemned to avert possible loss of lives in the future.

AAK governing council member Mary Kimani says said the incessant use of quacks and substandard construction material was to blame for the poor state of buildings in the town and Kenya as a whole.

She explained that the government should step in and bring sanity to the construction sector.

“About 50 percent of the buildings in Kiambu must be condemned because they are disasters waiting to happen. They have been put in a way such that no planning has been done where you find a three/four/five storey building on a steep slope. It is high time the government declared the ills that are happening in the construction industry a national disaster,” said Dr Kimani.

AAK chairman Steven Oundo added that team effort between members of the public, contractors, developers and government officials was required to streamline the construction industry.

“The easy way out of any situation is to apportion blame but a building is a team effort and we have all failed as a team. We are in a country that is governed by the government in place and if the government does not decide that it wants to address this problem it doesn’t matter how much noise we make as an association,” he said.

Mr Oundo added that time had run out for the government to remain mum over the persistent disasters affecting the construction industry and called for the immediate audit of all buildings through the establishment of a Building Audit Committee.

“The time has come for the government to take decisive action and order the immediate audit of all buildings. The committee will undertake an audit of all buildings and those found to be unsound must be demolished while those that can be rectified will be rectified and given a clean bill of health in the form of an Occupation Certificate,” he said.

He took issue with the current system of registering contractors where anyone regardless of their background could become registered and certified.

“You find someone who has been running butchery for 10 years register themselves as a contractor and the following year they are able to get a contract in the building industry. Now a Contractors Registration Board needs to be set up as a matter of urgency to ensure that only suitably qualified and experienced persons are allowed to practice,” he proposed.  

The association also pointed an accusing finger at local authorities saying they had failed in their role to control developments in their areas with Mr Oundo adding that the civic authorities did not have the capacity to regulate professionals in the construction sector.

“While this can be largely blamed on weak technical capacity, there is a high level of laxity among council officials who are supposed to enforce building regulations. We must make the best of the existing legal framework and capacities for us to confidently expect improvements with better laws and higher capacities,” he said.

Mr Oundo maintained that the AAK would not relent in demanding that all construction sites have sign boards detailing who was undertaking construction work and further asked members of the public to insist on such information.

“There is absolutely no reason why a site should not have a sign board unless the project is dubious in many ways,” he said.


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