Queries as owner of collapsed city building ‘out of the country’

collapsed building in Kasarani

Rescue workers at the site of the collapsed building in Kasarani on November 15, 2022. 

Photo credit: Mercy Chelangat | Nation Media Group

The whereabouts of the owner of a building that collapsed in Kasarani, Nairobi County, killing three people, remain unknown nearly two weeks later. 

Nairobi County Police Commander Adamson Bungei told the Nation that the developer may have travelled out of the country.

“He could be outside the country from the information we have but that is just one line of reasoning that we are pursuing. He won’t avoid us for long,” he said.

“But as you already know we have already arrested the contractor and we are investigating which county official is culpable,” the city police boss added.

The police are investigating the validity of the approvals for the building amid claims that the foreman was arrested last month by an enforcement team but was allowed back at the construction site days before the structure collapsed.

There were also claims that the foreman, who is still walking free, had told workers to continue working after officials from the Nairobi County Government flagged the building two days before it collapsed.

This comes as owners of other buildings that collapsed recently in Ruaka and Ruiru face the law.

Probe conclusion

On Tuesday, a court in Kiambu allowed the police to continue holding Mr Stephen Gitau and four county officials for between seven and 10 days as they conclude investigations into the collapse of a building in Ruiru.

“The respondents, whose mandates include vetting, drawing, monitoring ongoing projects under construction, serving notices to non-compliance developments and enforcing the requirements of the notices served failed to act, which led to the collapse of the said building causing death,” investigating officer Moses Maina told the court.

Police are also holding Ms Jennifer Kamau, 59, the owner of a building that collapsed in Ruaka last week, killing two people.

Read: 'This is murder!': Sakaja speaks after three die in collapsed Kasarani building

Ms Kamau was arrested on Monday while trying to fly to the United States through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

“The contractor has been arrested this afternoon and will be taken to court tomorrow morning. The owner of the house is out of the country but we are working with immigration to trace him,” Nairobi Governor Johnstone Sakaja told the Nation yesterday.

The owner of the Karasarani building seems to be calling the shots as he has done for the past 14 months since his ill-fated building was approved. 
Workers are said to have been mobilised to clear debris from the site, as questions continue swirling as to why the construction of the building that was condemned on October 22 by the National Construction Authority (NCA) was allowed to go on.

Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officers in Kasarani are reportedly investigating the validity of the approvals for the ill-fated building, with sources suggesting the matter could suck in senior officials from the Lands, Urban Planning and Development departments at City Hall.

At issue is the veracity of the minutes of a meeting that is said to have been held and which paved the way for the approvals, which were made on September 27 last year.

The authorisation stamp is also being investigated.
The NCA had in its assessment said its officials inspected the building just a few hours before it collapsed on November 15, but construction went on.

“Construction was ongoing when our officers inspected and the fault was noticed at the columns. The building was not compliant and arrests had been made,” the NCA said.