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Ministry seeks Cabinet action over unsafe buildings in Nairobi

Wednesday June 17 2015

TRM building collapse, ROYSAMBU

Residents mill around near a building that collapsed and trapped construction workers behind Thika Road Mall in Roysambu on April 2, 2015. PHOTO | PETER NGARE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

OTIATO GUGUYU
By OTIATO GUGUYU
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An audit on the safety of buildings in Nairobi will be presented to the Cabinet next week.

The audit by the National Construction Authority (NCA) also covers buildings constructed on watersheds and recommends that they be demolished.

Acting Lands Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said once the audit is submitted to the Cabinet, a plan of action against the illegal structures will be announced and no one is to be spared in the planned demolitions.

In the audit the NCA has been conducting in the past three months, only 42 per cent of buildings were found to be safe to live in.

Most, however, need minor adjustments while a few are write-offs.

The secretary of the Buildings Inspectorate of the Lands ministry, Moses Nyakiongora, said construction within five metres of the highest point of a river was considered encroachment into riparian reserves.

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“Last week President Uhuru Kenyatta formed a Cabinet subcommittee for Lands and Housing, Interior and the Environment ministry after a building collapsed in Kisumu to curb this problem,” Mr Matiang’i said.

He added that the Cabinet secretaries from the ministries involved would issue a way forward once the NCA report is submitted to the Cabinet.

EIGHT BUILDINGS COLLAPSED

This year alone, eight buildings have collapsed, killing several people and injuring others.

In Nairobi, three buildings have collapsed in recent months in Roysambu, Huruma and Makongeni, leaving 15 people dead and scores injured.

Since 1996 more than 30 buildings have collapsed in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Kiambu, Kisii, Meru and Narok.

The CS said officials who approved building plans on the riparian areas would also face charges.

Bobasi MP Stephen Manoti, whose Sh1 billion business complex on Mbagathi Way being built on a riverbank was stopped, said city county officials had given him a go-ahead.

The NCA also proposes that owners of buildings that have five floors but no lifts be forced to demolish the extra floors or install the service.

Owners of houses with minor defects, such as inadequate ventilation and lighting, have been given a month to fix the problems.

Owners of those classified as high-risk have been given two months to ask their tenants to move out and to demolish the buildings.

Mr Matiang’i, who was speaking at a forum on measures to curb the problem of collapsing buildings, said the government would “not be second-guessed”.

The NCA audit has already covered 1,600 buildings in Huruma, Kariobangi, Umoja, Githurai, Zimmerman and Kahawa West. Two blocks in Roysambu were brought down and several others in Umoja have been earmarked for demolition.

The Buildings Inspectorate urged tenants to look out for cracks and water leakages in their residences and vacate unsafe buildings.