Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kenya loses Sh1.4 billion on collapsed buildings

Rescuers at the site of a building that collapsed at Embakasi, Nairobi, last month. Photo/FILE

Rescuers at the site of a building that collapsed at Embakasi, Nairobi, last month. Photo/FILE 

By LUCAS BARASA

Kenya has lost more than Sh1.4 billion as a result of collapsed buildings in the last 15 years, Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors (BORAQS) says.

Chairman Gideon Mulyungi said 24 buildings have collapsed in the country since 1996.

“Forty-one lives have been lost and 47 people injured over the same period,” Mr Mulyungi said in an interview.

The chairman, who is also Ministry of Public Works secretary blamed land developers for not engaging qualified professionals resulting to the collapse of buildings.

He regretted that quacks were also purporting to act as qualified professionals while local authorities are “sometimes” not enforcing the law.

Asked who was sleeping on the job, Mr Mulyungi said: “You and I for refusing to comply with the law despite the fact that the industry is the fastest growing having registered a growth rate of over 400 per cent from Sh38 billion to Sh190 billion in the last 10 years.”

Mr Mulyungi also called on the public to change its attitude and comply with the law on construction.

He said unsafe construction sites could easily be detected as they lack signboards and approval from the relevant local authority, use of substandard materials and suspicious speed of implementation.

Mr Mulyungi said BORAQS has put in place measures to minimise the collapse of buildings including the amendment of Cap 525 of the Laws of Kenya.

The revision of the law is to empower the board to regulate the profession rather than the registered member, reign on quack professionals and rogue developers.

The board also wants to register more professional bodies and regulate politicians.

The board further plans to start campaigns against construction sites that are not properly labelled “as the public supports us by reporting suspicious construction sites.”

BORAQS will meet other professionals associations from East Africa in Kampala on Thursday to sign mutual recognition agreement on cross-border practice of architecture under the common market protocol.

BORAQS which is mandated with registering and regulating the professions of Architecture and Quantity Surveying in Kenya is also seeking partnerships with the local authorities, professional associations and corporate entities.

There are 1353 architects in the country compared to 711 quantity surveyors.

Since independence 28 architects and 15 surveyors have been suspended.

Twenty architects and eight surveyors have also been de-registered since 1963, Mr Mulyungi said.

He said for one to serve as an architect he must have had a minimum of five years training in architecture from an approved University followed by two years practical experience under a registered architect.

A quantity surveyor needs a minimum of three years training in quantity surveying from an approved University followed by a two years practical experience under a registered quantity surveyor.

A law aimed at instilling professionalism and boosting capacity in the country’s construction industry will soon be tabled in Parliament.

A National Construction Authority Bill has since been developed to register and regulate contractors.

The enactment of the Bill is expected to enhance professionalism and help boost the capacity of local contractors to competitively bid and win contracts locally and in the region.

The move is part of the reforms earmarked by his ministry to bring order and coordination to the entire building industry.

The World Bank and its private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation, recent report ranked Kenya poorly, especially in the construction industry.

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