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Surveyors launch awards to improve industry standards

By | May 25th 2010

By James Anyanzwa

The Quantity Surveyors (QS) Chapter of the Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) has unveiled an award of excellence to promote professionalism in the construction sector.

The new scheme is designed to weed out quacks and mediocrity through recognition and rewarding of top performing practitioners.

The surveyors have designed over 50 accolades as part of the incentive package to stir competition and guarantee delivery of high quality services in the sector.

These includes, among others, fully paid golf tournament and publicity in both the print and electronic media for the winners.

The exercise also seeks to recognise women and the physically challenged persons who have excelled in the construction industry.

The event, sponsored by manufacturers and financial institutions, will be concluded in July 30.

The latest move comes amid a spate of collapsing buildings in parts of the country in recent months.

Serious issue

"The issue of quacks is a very serious problem in the industry," the Quantity Surveyors Chapter Chairman Haron Nyakundi, said.

Nyakundi says the new initiative, which seeks to appreciate and remunerate quality, will involve all stakeholders in the construction sector.

These, he says, include among others developers, constructors, architects, engineers, insurers, quantity surveyors, building contractors, academia, manufacturers and suppliers of building materials.

"We hope to improve and encourage people to excel in their areas of expertise," Nyakundi says.

"In fact, we are using a proven language to encourage people to do what is right." "So far the indicators are good. This idea has been received very well in the industry and many people are willing to participate."

The chapter recognise, motivate and award excellence deserving captains of the industry in such areas as consultancy, real estate development, finance, special interest groups and corporate social responsibility.

"We need to encourage people to maintain high standards even with high demand for buildings," says Nyakundi.

"We have come up with a mechanism to identify, evaluate and reward the best performers through an independent panel of jurists drawn from both within and outside the construction sector."

The real estate development was negatively affected by the global economic recession.

However, the sector picked up quickly, partly due to the countryÌs position as the regionÌs financial and economic hub.

Nyakundi contends that there has been a slow down in the property market, particularly in the construction of new houses and office blocks mainly due to high interest rates on loans charged by commercial banks.

The trend, he says is bound to change significantly with a favourable interest rate regime as banks re-adjust their base lending rates downwards.

The Government has initiated investor friendly policy programmes on housing and land use reforms meant to correct past mistakes and spur rapid development.

Slum projects

These include among others the Ndung’u Report and varied land reform initiatives.

The Ministry of Housing, through the National Housing Corporation (NHC) with funding from the international development agencies, has also initiated slum upgrading and civil servants housing programmes in major towns throughout the country.

Banks and mortgage companies have developed pension backed mortgage products.

Under this arrangement, borrowers can access up to 60 per cent of their cumulative pension benefits as additional collateral to acquire loans for real estate development.


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