Contractors and owners should obey safety rules

A collapsed apartment block leaning on a building in Kinoo, Kiambu. [Denish Ochieng]

Images of an apartment block caving in and leaning on a nearby building in Kinoo, Kiambu, have rekindled debate about whether investors and contractors observe safety standards.

It also shines a spotlight on building industry players because such cases expose the public to the risk of injury, death and loss of property. 

The collapse or buildings should be treated as a serious offence, especially because some investors and contractors often cut corners in the race to reduce construction costs.

Cases of builders using sub-standard materials or failing to observe building rules and regulations are all too common. In many instances, some investors fail to engage civil engineers as required by law, citing high costs.

 Yet, by ignoring this requirement, they expose themselves to the risk of losing their investment while also endangering the lives of construction workers and those who eventually occupy such buildings.

Whereas the National Construction Authority and counties should be more robust in inspecting projects they approve, it still behoves owners and contractors to ensure they follow not just the law, but also the building code.

In instances where buildings collapse, investigative agencies must be seen to be taking stern remedial legal action.

They ought to be seen prosecuting such offenders regularly, given that corruption is sometimes to blame for poor workmanship when officials are compromised to turn a blind eye to irregularities during construction.

There is also need for continuous training of construction industry players to equip them with knowledge and skills about best practices. And where licensed players are found responsible for collapse of buildings, regulatory authorities should deregister them and publish their names so that investors can make informed decisions when contracting. It should not be business as usual.

Although insurance uptake is low in Kenya, owners should be encouraged to insure their property against risks such as faulty buildings collapsing on others.

 This way, investors who play by the rules will be shielded from the bad decisions made by third parties. Insurance uptake will raise compliance, which is beneficial to the sub-sector in the long run.