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Architects warn of impending disaster

By | October 17th 2009

By Ramadhan Rajab and Anne Kanina

Six of ten buildings in Nairobi do not meet stipulated safety standards, the Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) warns.

AAK says the buildings are either constructed by quacks or owners do not obtain approval.

Addressing a press conference on Friday in Nairobi, The association’s chairman, Mr Steven Oundo, said more than 5,000 quacks masquerade as qualified architects, tarnishing the image of the profession and compromising safety standards.

"We are sitting on a time bomb, and we risk losing thousand of lives if this mess is not addressed soon," Oundo told The Standard on Saturday.

He said the City Council of Nairobi’s decision to give single business permits encourages quacks because there is no background check.

Oundo said laxity in enforcing the building code has caused the rot in the sector.

He called on the Government to strengthen the local council’s technical capacity, noting that the new planning and building Bill expected to be tabled in Parliament would bring sanity to the construction industry.

If enacted, the new Bill seeks to create a building and planning authority to harmonise operations of the sector, as well address professional problems to improve on quality and enhance monitoring and audits of buildings.

"We support this Bill because it is going to revamp and streamline rules in this industry, giving professional bodies teeth to bite when they detect professional shortcomings," he said.

Oundo called on the Government to also pay attention to informal settlements increasing at an alarming rate without construction approval.

"The Government should also audit buildings to determine their state and authorise maintenance or bring them down.

He said outsourcing for technical services would also help enhance the safety of buildings.

Oundo talked just a day after, a house under construction collapsed, killing one person and leaving six injured.

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