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Rogue contractors: Give NCA teeth to bite

REAL ESTATE
By Harold Ayodo | January 7th 2016

Mandera Governor Ali Roba recently threatened to sue contractors who do not produce quality work on projects or those who breach agreements. Such cases are not new.

Former Roads Minister Franklin Bett once cracked the whip on cowboy contractors. Private developers who fall victims to such contractors can complain in writing to the National Construction Authority (NCA) board.

Unprofessional

The board may institute an inquiry into the conduct of the contractor over unprofessional practices. It may also appoint a subcommittee to undertake the probe.

The board informs the contractor in writing of the complaint, giving grounds of the complaint. The contractor is given specified time to respond to the allegations, which may be verified by an affidavit witnessed by a commissioner for oaths.

Migori County governor Okoth Obado (in the tractor) launches the construction of Dr. Ating'as bridge in Komire village on December 20, 2015. The road will cover 15 kilometres through Uriri Sub County into Ndhiwa Sub County in Homabay County and is expected to improve the trade between the two counties and along the Lake Victoria. (PHOTO: DENISH OCHIENG/ STANDARD)

The board has powers to summon any contractor whom a complaint is lodged against or whose conduct appears to require investigation.

Moreover, affected contractors may be compelled to produce any document in his or her control relating to the complaint.

A contractor against whom a complaint has been filed has the right to either appear before the board either in person or through an advocate of the High Court.

Contractors who fail to appear before the board after having been slapped with summons are liable for conviction to a fine of up to Sh1 million shillings, three years in jail or both. The board has powers to punish the contractor either by caution, direct to undertake a specified action, suspension or deregistration.

Recently, NCA executive director Daniel Manduku threatened to deregister contractors who violate the code of ethics. According to the authority, there are slightly over 9,000 gazetted contractors countrywide that have subscribed to a code of ethics, which calls for adherence to the highest construction standards.

Manduku says the industry’s regulations and code of ethics mirror international best practices and Kenyans should consult NCA before engaging contractors.

Recent NCA data shows that a paltry 20 per cent of the estimated 12,000 contractors countrywide are certified, meaning the multi-billion-shilling industry is largely run by quacks.

Majority of cowboy contractors are now pitching camp in counties to reap from scheduled infrastructural developments.

Crackdown

Fortunately, the authority has its ears on the ground and recently embarked on a crackdown on rogue contractors in Githurai, Kiambu County and Kahawa West in Nairobi, among other counties. Efforts to weed out rogue constructors are, however, being frustrated by lack of prosecutorial powers by the authority and rampant corruption in county governments.

At one time, NCA chairman, Steve Oundo, called on the government to empower the authority by giving it prosecutorial powers to enable it crack the whip on unscrupulous contractors who have duped property owners to put up buildings without due compliance.

Currently, NCA is working with Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the police to tame rogue elements in the construction industry. The authority, which has powers to award certificates of proficiency to contactors, skilled construction workers and construction site supervisors, should crack the whip.

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