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Why the diaspora must engage real estate experts

BUSINESS
By Nashon Okowa | March 6th 2021

The frustrations our diaspora citizens have endured in construction and real estate industry are legendry and painful for a majority of them. The stories are lamentably insidious and painfully grotesque; a series of bizarre episodes that sometimes border fiction, though not.

On the surface, they could be excusable considering how far away from their motherland the diaspora are. After all, we have witnessed a number of Kenyans here, who have had it rough dealing with the construction industry.

However, there could be more to it; more to the expectations that our diaspora people could be more vigilant having tasted some of the best working systems out there. More to the revelation that some of our diaspora citizens seem out of touch with happenings back home and graciously assume it works in the same way as their resident country. Could we be kind and call it ignorance? Maybe. Or we could just recline to assertion that mankind is unteachable?

This city is littered with painful stories of people in diaspora who have been conned dealing with the construction and real estate industry. Some have been robbed by quack consultants and contractors, others have been swindled by their relatives. You must have had stories of how some people sent money for construction of a property only to find nothing constructed or very shoddy work done.

I once interacted with a hardworking Kenyan who lives in Sweden and was trying to construct a commercial property in a satellite town. She had sent tens of millions to a quack project manager for the construction works only to return and find minimal work progress. Her pain was unbearable and still lingers.

With seemingly more educated local citizens on the phony games, there is a monotonous clamour for diaspora market by the real estate quacks and crooks. Renewed vigilance has to be at the threshold of every of their investment back at home. They cannot fail in this duty, however painful. Unfortunately, at the moment, only glimpses of this vigilance is visible.

Let me break it down; while the stars in their inherent course proclaim the deliverance of mankind, we here at home are still stuck to our folklore ways. Our love for shortcuts, as people, remains of conceived admiration and like our debts, our ethics too is in deficit.

You must therefore wear the full vigilance armor as the helmet, belt and breastplate. If you truly desire to have the sleep of the saved and thankful. Stick to the laws, regulations and requirements. Where in doubt ask, walk into the embassy or consulate. Where there is a requirement to have statutory approvals, use of registered professionals or contractor see to it that this is done.

For your benefit, all contractors must be registered by the National Construction Authority (NCA), a quick look out on their website could confirm whether the contractor being recommended complies with the law. Licensed architects and Quantity surveyors' data are with Board of registration of Architects and Quantity surveyors (BORAQS).

This is a public body, bother them with any inquiry before engaging such professionals. Registered engineers on the other hand are listed with Engineers board of Kenya (EBK), another public body. If there is no public body, consult the professional associations.

Lastly, it is bestowed upon our counties to approve drawings – architectural and structural drawings – get it done. Even when buying property, check for conformity of these things. Be vigilant, it is the supreme hour requirement to which you have been called.

These tasks that you must perform are at once more practical, more simple and sterner with near-guaranteed returns or a fallback in case of any emerging issues. Those good old days of solely trusting families and friends with property investment are gone. Revert to trusting licensed professionals, it may not be a guarantee but we can learn from the past. Let’s be teachable. 

 

- The writer is chair of the Association of Construction Managers of Kenya. [email protected]

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