Queries as another building collapses

Friday, November 18th, 2022 00:30 | By
Queries as another building collapses
Rescuers at the scene where a five storey building collapsed at Ruaka, Kiambu county claiming the lives of two people, yesterday. PD/clement Kamau

Two people died while two others escaped unhurt after another building which was under construction collapsed in a span of three days within the Nairobi neighbourhood as the spotlight turned on the efficacy of the National Construction Authority (NCA).

Questions are also emerging over the standards of materials being used for construction and whether the manufacturers enforce quality assessment procedures. Fingers are also being pointed at county governments over their efficacy in the supervision and enforcement of construction procedures.

The six-storey building under construction collapsed at Joyland area in Ruaka, Kiambu County, killing on the spot a husband and wife who were sleeping in their home, adjacent to the building when they were trapped in the rubble.

The two deceased were named Peter Njuthi and his wife Faith Wambui aged 73 and 50 years respectively while their son and his friend, were injured and rushed to hospital where they were said to be out of danger.

This comes only three days after another six-storey building collapsed in Kasarani, Nairobi claiming three lives.

According to Patrick Karomo, one of the deceased couple’s sons, the ill-fated building collapsed at about 4 am and fell onto his parent's house which was adjacent.

“I was called at about 4 am and given the unfortunate information that the building under construction next to my parents’ house had collapsed. I rushed there and found neighbours have rescued my brother and taken him to hospital,” he said.

Added: “Unfortunately, both my mother and father were still trapped inside the house. However, by the time a combined team of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and Kiambu county government firefighters retrieved them,  they had already died”. He further said that locals had reported to the local authorities and the county government that the building was being built despite having developed visible cracks.

“After reporting, people who claimed to be from the county government came and arrested several people and construction works stopped. However, the work later continued under mysterious circumstances. In fact, on Wednesday, they were building the penthouse,” Karomo disclosed.

Kiambu governor Kimani Wamatangi who was among the first people to visit the scene confirmed the building had been condemned by both engineers from both the county and NCA. The governor accused the Judiciary of frustrating efforts by his administration to deal with wayward real estate developers terming it a major challenge.

“Every time we give notice to property owners after condemning their entities, they normally rush to court where they are given anticipatory bonds that give immunity to being arrested,” he said.

One stop shop

Wamatangi further said that lack of coordination among all the stakeholders in the building sector was to blame for rogue developers circumventing regulations to hurriedly put up substandard structures.

The governor regretted that most developers in the county built residential and commercial houses without getting full approval from the county government.

“We are cognizant of the fact that multiplicity of requirements may delay the developers from moving on and that’s why we are planning to come up with a one-stop shop where all the requirements will be processed”, he reiterated.

The Engineers Board of Kenya recently said that apart from losing lives, developers in the country lost billions of shillings after their buildings collapse.

The body challenged developers to always engage professional and right engineers to avoid further loss of lives and investments. Most buildings  collapse due to weak foundations, substandard building materials, poor structural designs and unqualified labour that  can be avoided if due process is followed to the letter

It has also been established by the board that corrupt inspectors, after receiving bribes, normally turn a blind eye to malpractices resulting in fatalities and massive financial loss.

NCA has also come under sharp criticism on whether it takes action against contractors responsible for the collapsed buildings apart from rushing to arrest and charge owners of the buildings or investors.

“Whose responsibility is it for the collapsed building? Should the blame be turned on the contractor, foreman or owner?  And what is the role of NCA? Is it not to ensure that all procedures are enforced instead of waiting for a building to collapse and rush to the scene?” a Nairobi MCA who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter questioned.

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