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We hope promises after Huruma were not mere rhetoric

By Ferdinand Mwongela | May 12th 2016

The debate on enforcement of building regulations, or lack of the same, is one that closely mirrors that of managing floods. It comes up periodically and is then promptly forgotten, until another building buries more people.

Every time a building collapses, the script is the same; one can even recite it from memory. The government (county and/or national) comes out issuing warnings and ultimatums to everyone and no one. Regulatory bodies on the other hand call endless Press conferences characterised by finger wagging and denials. The citizens who occupied questionable structures are not left behind; usually, with the 'serikali saidia' line.

It should be hoped that the Huruma disaster was the final nail in the coffin. The turning moment when those dealing in murder under the guise of building approvals stood up and said enough is enough. A defining time when bodies such as the National Construction Authority and the Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors cracked the whip on errant professionals and contractors.

Like all previous times, the authorities have been hitting all the right notes. Demolitions, structural reinforcements, building audits. We hope these are not merely catchy buzzwords in speeches; plucked from dictionaries and used to season boring press conferences.

Kenyans hope the promises made will be fulfilled and the threats issued followed through. The commitment by different bodies among them the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Settlement, the National Construction Authority and the National Environment Management Authority for a countrywide building check is commendable. As is the move to demolish buildings found to be in default of construction guidelines and pose a danger to users.

Earlier this week, Lands Principal Secretary Paul Mwangi said they would publish comprehensive list of those buildings that "must come down without any question." We will be waiting for this list, and follow the progress of their demolition.

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