The collapse of buildings has become the norm in the country and is a nationwide problem with the number of cases steadily increasing. Most of the collapsed buildings are particularly those under construction.
On Tuesday, a seven-storey building under construction collapsed in Kasarani, Nairobi. Just a week before, another building, also under construction, had collapsed in Tassia, Embakasi, in Nairobi. In September, a six-storey building under construction collapsed in Kirigiti, Kiambu County. In August, a four-storey building collapsed in the Mwiki Estate, Kasarani.
The building collapses have caused loss of lives and left several people nursing severe injuries. If there are no robust measures to stop the trend, then that will be a ‘pandemic’ in the making. But we should not wait for another building to collapse to take action; we have to act now.
Kenya’s population has been increasing rapidly, leading to accelerated urbanisation. This has led to high demand for housing, especially in the cities. In a bid to grab the opportunity of making a killing by filling the supply gap, some rogue real estate developers have cut corners, ignoring construction regulations, hence the collapse of their buildings.
It is pertinent to come up with drastic, bold and decisive actions to control the situation. The government, particularly the National Construction Authority (NCA), has a critical role to play in making buildings safe.
First, NCA should get tough on construction industry players to prevent such incidents from occurring. Secondly, it should ensure professional construction. It should deal sternly with the rogue engineers who never follow guidelines and designers operating without a licence and prosecute them.
Consequently, unregulated construction and corruption should not be tolerated. The lapse has been giving contractors room to use substandard building materials and giving them the space to exercise impunity.
Further, the government should demolish any building that is not structurally habitable. Building collapses are 100 per cent preventable. Let’s act now to avoid a recurrence of the tragedy.
Joseph Kamau Kiragu, Narok
* * *
We have had similar incidents as the collapse of a building at Kwa Ndege, Tassia Estate, in Embakasi, Nairobi occurring one after another and the relevant authorities come out to tell us the same stories that bear no results.
There is an urgent need to restructure NCA as that is where the buck stops. It needs innovative and competent men and women for efficiency. It has refused to move with times.
The last time I had a dialogue with NCA officials, they claimed to be understaffed which is why they can’t be felt everywhere. These condemned buildings cast NCA in a bad light. But worrying is, who is to effect the guidelines? And that is where law enforcement agencies come in.
E. A. Ambuche, Nairobi