Nyayo House not safe for occupancy, warns auditor
Office of the Auditor-General has raised alarm on health and safety concerns regarding the iconic Nyayo House building, declaring it a health hazard and unfit for human occupation.
In a report for the State Department of Interior and Citizen Services, Auditor General Nancy Gathungu says the building does not have designated toilets and washrooms for persons with disabilities.
According to Gathungu, the washrooms have walls adjacent to doors, making it difficult for persons with disabilities using wheelchairs to access them.
Besides, the building also lacks an accessibility lamp to make it easily accessible to the disabled, who may not be able to use stairs, especially whenever there is power failure or lifts are not functioning.
She also points out that fire-fighting appliances available in the building have not been serviced and tested for a long time.
“Some of the fire exit escape stairways have been sealed off or permanently locked making them fully inaccessible in case of an emergency,” the report.
“In addition, three routes outside the building along the drainage lines have not been pruned, or uprooted yet they can easily cause damage to the service lines and cause blockage,” report adds.
Nyayo House is a skyscraper in Nairobi city that hosts several government departments such as the Ministry of Energy and State Department of Citizen Services and Immigration.
It also serves as the headquarters and office of the Regional Commissioner for Nairobi. But appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Public Accounts yesterday, Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said there is a recommendation for a thorough refurbishment of Nyayo House that had already earlier been done by the Department of Housing and Urban Development way back in 2019 at a cost of Sh244 million.
“Obviously that money was not made available and what we have been doing is struggling with our budget to ensure Nyayo House is kept tidy,” Karanja told the committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.
“We have a listed number of things that we have been able to do even as we continue pushing for this budget. We have the Western end of the rooftop that was cleared of debris,” Kibicho said.
He continued: “We have toilets for people with disabilities. These toilets have already been identified and we will allocate small amounts for their conversion because those are not huge amounts,” he added.
According to the PS, the problem is that the landlord of Nyayo House is the Regional Commissioner for Nairobi, but people do not pay rent and neither do they contribute to the building’s well-being hence the problem owing to human traffic in.
“Obviously, there will be deterioration of the infrastructure whether it is the toilets or tiles, but the tenants do not pay rent. And therefore, the landlord can only depend on the small budgetary budget by the Treasury,” Kibicho said.
Regarding cutting of the roots that may cause damage to the service lines and cause blockage, Kibicho said the State department has sought permission from forestry services to uproot the stems.
Gatanga MP Ngugi Nduati, a member of the committee, asked the state department to build a new toilet block to address the huge human traffic to the building.
Nyayo House gained notoriety in the 1980s when its basement was used to torture perceived critics of the regime of then President including Azimio La Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga.
Opening up on the dark secrets of the notorious torture chambers, Raila revealed that the torture chambers’ walls bore different colours including black, red and white.