, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – Dozens of residents at a four-storey building in Kahawa’s Wendani estate in Nairobi were forced to move out on Thursday after the house begun ‘sinking’.
The building which is still under construction is reported to have developed cracks since Wednesday, before residents – mainly students of the Kenyatta University – noticed that it was sinking.
“We saw a crack yesterday, and thought it was just a small thing but when we came back in the evening, it had cracked even more; and that is when we informed the owners,” a student who identified herself as Eliza said.
Some students moved out on Wednesday night and those who waited until Thursday could not stay there any longer after they claimed the house had sunk a further few inches.
“Part of the house has already sunk but you wouldn’t understand because you were not here yesterday (Wednesday). It is getting serious and that is why we have decided to move out,” another student Kevin Lagat said.
The house is occupied up to fourth floor but fifth floor is still under construction.
There were chaotic scenes at the site for the better part of Thursday as the students frantically moved out, fearing it may collapse.
“We are racing behind time; this house can come down anytime now,” another student said.
Some students were seen throwing their belongings off balconies while others jumped from top floors, oblivious of the dangers they were exposing themselves to.
“I better save little items than watch as they sink with the house,” Vinny Mwachai said.
Some students said they were called by their colleagues to go and salvage their items “because the house was going down.”
Officials from the City Council of Nairobi visited the scene but they did not manage to convince the occupants that the house was not sinking.
Neighbours interviewed accused the students of causing “unnecessary panic” in the area yet the house was not sinking.
“If this house was sinking, it could be down by now. The weight they are exerting on it as they get their things out is enough to sink it if the cracks were severe. They are just panicking for nothing,” Vincent Butali who lives nearby said.
Others said the confusion caused by the students was meant to enable them steal from one another.
“Just look at them, they are not organised at all. I don’t believe someone who knows the cost of a bed can throw it from upstairs. They must be stealing from one another and that is why they do not care about the damage,” another resident said.
Both uniformed and plainclothes police officers were seen patrolling the vicinity where handcart pushers made brisk business transporting the students’ items.
Reports indicate that the owner of the building was in the area earlier Thursday morning.