NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 1 – The Ministry of Local Government is in the process of engaging and deploying planners to various local authorities throughout the country.
Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi who is also the Minister for Local Government said on Tuesday that this will result in improved planning in the local authorities.
“One of the biggest problems we have in the local authorities is that apart from Nairobi and Mombasa, the others barely have any planners or other building professionals and we are working very hard to recruit experts and deploy them to the various local authorities,” the Deputy Premier stated.
Speaking at a forum in which the Building Code Review and Harmonization Committee presented a raft of recommendations, Mr Mudavadi appreciated the need to improve capacity in various construction disciplines by employing competent and qualified staff.
“There is a major capacity problem because this is a multi-disciplined industry. We still have an issue with engineers, architects and even environmentalists,” he explained.
The government has in the meantime reiterated the urgent need to conclude the building code review process.
Housing Minister Soita Shitanda restated that the current law as it stands is outdated and does not factor in safety measures and building material quality and efficacy.
“You look at approved building plans, the nature of structures approved, the size and location of the structure and wonder whether the approving officer has ever visited Kenya,” the Housing Minister said.
“Our building code is based on English law. Given the differences in climatic conditions, some sections may not be applicable in Kenya today.” He stressed that emphasis should be put on the building quality structures rather than focusing on the material used. “It also concentrates more on urban centres and leaves no room for indigenous construction and technology.”
According to the Housing Ministry’s website, the current Building Code dates back to 1967 and is based on a 1943 document which highlighted construction codes applicable in England.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga in April, 2009 launched the Building Code Review and Harmonisation Committee with the mandate to re-engineer the industry through incorporation of best practices and appropriate building technologies in order to revolutionise the sector.
Efforts to revise the Building Code have been piecemeal and have not yielded the desired results. The revisions have also not been fully embraced by the various stakeholders.
The need to review the current Building Code arose out of building and construction failures witnessed in this country since 1996. Various professionals and inquiry committee’s findings have laid blame on the outdated Building Code.