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High rise buildings without lifts going down

NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 20 – If you live or work in a building with five storeys and above and has no lifts, you have been warned that City Council bulldozers will bring it down.

That was the unsettling warning Local Government Minister Musalia Mudavadi sent out to all Kenyans on Monday when he toured the site of a building that collapsed while under construction in Lang\’ata on Sunday.

"We will not spare any building regardless of where it is. Council authorities are under instruction to start enforcing this order after carrying out an audit of all buildings of that nature," the Minister who is also one of the country’s Deputy Prime Ministers said.

"All buildings that are more than five floors up must have a lift, that is clearly stipulated and contractors putting up such buildings know that. All such structures that have violated this rule will have to be brought down," he added.

Mr Mudavadi told reporters he had ordered an audit of all buildings in Nairobi and other parts of the country to pave way for the demolition.

"It is a process, although the buildings were put up illegally we will not commit another illegality to solve an illegality. We will follow the law and this includes issuing proper notices to owners," he said.

The Minister said estates in the city’s Eastlands area and Githurai are most notorious.

"But we are not saying those are the only areas which are going to be targeted," he added.

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Asked how such buildings ended up being constructed without the intervention of the council authorities, the Minister blamed the anomaly on what he termed as "shortage of manpower at the councils and compromised integrity amongst some of the existing officials.”

"We don\’t deny the fact that authorities are to blame partly on this menace, but Kenyans are to blame too. Some of these issues are driven by greed and the increasing demand for houses. We will take action on our officers including diplomacy action and dismissals," he said.

He cited an example of the house that collapsed in Pipeline estate in Nairobi last week, killing four people.

He said the six-storey building was not approved by the council yet it had gone up to six floors.

"This is similar to what happened here (Lang\’ata). It is an issue of collusion where the council inspectors in the respective estates have been colluding with owners of buildings to get money so as to put up illegal structures," he said.

The owner of the building at Lang\’ata was not present when Mr Mudavadi and other top council officials visited the area.

The Minister said the city map has shown that the house was put up on a road reserve.

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