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Stop rhetoric and act on unsafe buildings

Tuesday December 10 2019

EDITORIAL
By EDITORIAL
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The death of at least 10 people in a collapsed building in Nairobi’s Tassia Estate has not elicited public outrage as it should.

Nairobi City County authorities, the national government and various responsible agencies have not demonstrated urgency in dealing with the matter.

All these demonstrate lethargy. It is the surest yet unfortunate indication of a society in paralysis and, therefore, unmoved by tragedies. This is disastrous.

Collapsing buildings have become a perennial feature in this country.

The authorities long ceased to care about the quality of structures coming up within their territories while the citizens seem too helpless to save themselves and surrendered to fate.

Creating sanity in the construction industry has been widely debated.

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FAILED AUDIT

Not long ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered a quality audit of all buildings in Nairobi and its environs following a spate of collapses.

The intention was to identify shoddy structures and demolish them. Quickly, the National Construction Authority, City Hall and other regulators lurched onto action.

But that dissipated as quickly as it was launched. Today, nobody believes the national or county governments when they talk of auditing buildings or stopping construction as nothing is ever done.

Developers of illegal structures thrive, violating all rules in the book. Indeed, a catalogue of collapsed buildings in the past five years is shocking.

For example, in September, seven children were killed at Precious Talent School in Dagoretti, Nairobi.

City Hall and other agencies moved in, spewing fire and threatening action to rid the city of such atrocious buildings.

But that was the end of the matter; it was fast discarded and life continued.

CAREFREE PEOPLE

Nairobi is a living death trap. Buildings of all shapes and form sprout all over as developers easily secure approvals for illegal structures, take shortcuts and do their bidding, exposing residents to veritable disasters.

Not only are the developers allowed to do what they want, there is no planning at all for structures.

Not surprisingly, buildings encroach on road reserves and way leave meant for utilities such as power, water and sewerage.

It is extremely difficult to save lives when buildings fall because they are simply inaccessible.

Notwithstanding available information and knowledge on construction, greedy developers are allowed to put up all kinds of grotesque and weak structures as nobody cares.

DEMAND ANSWERS

We cannot continue like this. Citizens must make demands about proper housing structures and infrastructure.

Officials approving and monitoring construction work should be sanctioned when they approve shady buildings that eventually fall, kill and maim.

We need action against the owners of the Tassia building as well as those who approved and supervised its construction.

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