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Old is gold: Why there's booming business in old building materials

Xn Iraki
 Old building materials are on sale along Lower Kabete Road. [XN Iraki, Standard]

Lower Kabete Road, just before turning into Kyuna Road is now a gold mine. The gold is old building materials - bricks, stones, windows, bathtubs, toilet cisterns, building stones, door handles, among others. 

The presence of lorries and pickups leaves no doubt some brisk business is going on. One transporter told me these items go as far as Mombasa. 

Why the interest in such old items? The secret is quality. The old houses brought down to make way for high-rise buildings used quality materials, some imported from India and England. Some of the material brand names are long gone, but their quality endures. 

The presence of this business could be an indicator that the quality of building products and materials has declined. House owners would prefer tested materials, some that have lasted for over 100 years.

Could this be the same reason Mitumba clothes are preferred, and perceived as of higher quality? Price is an attraction too.

My head is still spinning why 60 years after uhuru (independence) we are still wearing mitumba, and then complaining of joblessness? Think of jobs along the textile supply chains.

Building materials

Some think nostalgia drives the market for old building materials.  I think it's reality more than nostalgia. The quality of such materials is easy to see.

Contrast this with services like education or governance where nostalgia reigns. We still hear of an A-level system or a single-party system.

Unlike old materials that can be tested, you can’t test services like education or politics. You implement a system of education or politics and wait to see the results.

The recycling of old building materials is good for our planet. I keep wondering what will happen to all the concrete structures covering planet Earth.

And the heat they trap and prevent the earth from “breathing.” You don’t need to be a scientist to see the connection between climatic change and covering the planet with concrete and bitumen for roads.

Can other industries borrow from the construction industry and recycle more? Think of electronics, all the phones and computers? Where did all the black and white Great Wall TVs go?

Remember those old Cow Boy or Kimbo cans reused to make toys or salt and sugar dishes? What else did you recycle?  

The booming business in old building materials should be emulated by other sectors to slow down climatic change. Finally, did I hear the state house is being refurbished? Can the renovators keep the gold in that house?

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