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Construction of Kirigiti building that collapsed had been suspended, NCA reveals

The six-storey building collapsed on a residential house and trapped some of the inhabitants. [John Muchucha, Standard]

Over 80 per cent of all incidents of collapsed buildings in the country were occasioned by poor workmanship, the National Construction Authority (NCA) has said.

The authority said most of the collapsed buildings were constructed with substandard materials.

“Professional misconduct, using unqualified labour, greed for wealth by developers, poor structural design, and weak foundations are also to blame,” said NCA chairman David Gaitho.

Mr Gaitho was speaking at a city hotel during the launch of National Construction Authority awards that will be held in December this year. The event will feature categories that cater to solution providers, professional consultants and developers.

Gaitho said it was unfortunate that scores of people had died after buildings collapsed. “This could have been avoided if the laid down procedures by the authority were followed. For us to achieve excellence in the sector, we need to have less buildings collapsing.”

On Monday, at least five people were killed at Kirigiti area in Kiambu County after a six-storey building collapsed on a residential house and trapped some of the inhabitants.

Solomon Kitungu, the Principal Secretary in the State Department of Public Works, said the building’s construction had been suspended by the authority.

“NCA stopped the project in April and enforcement of that order was effected by the County Government of Kiambu when the building was at the first floor. But they went behind our back and continued with construction illegally up to the sixth floor when the building collapsed, killing Kenyans,” said Mr Kitungu.

He added: “NCA cannot be everywhere but it’s the work of the structural engineer, quantity surveyor and the architect to ensure that the building being constructed meets the required standards. In their absence, such tragedies occur.”

Kitungu said a team of investigators from NCA have opened an inquiry into the matter and that the findings will be out in two months.

The PS said they have also carried out inspections in all major towns.

Search and rescue operation in Kirigiti area, Kiambu County, on Monday, September 26. [John Muchucha, Standard]

The Construction Excellence Awards (CEAs) to be held in December this year will honour those who have played a pivotal role in the growth of the construction industry.

NCA Executive Director Maurice Akech said, “Excellence is defined as the act of being outstanding, being extremely good at what one does and being of valuable quality. It means never compromising on set standards and only aiming for the very best. NCA’s vision is for an innovative, well-coordinated and prosperous  construction industry.”

He added: “The Construction Excellence Awards are one such avenue that the authority has chosen to identify outstanding contractors, construction workers and construction site supervisors, who are committed to the pursuit of being the best at what they do.”

Eng Akech said the awards will seek to recognise and celebrate both experienced and upcoming contractors.

“The CEAs are making a statement to the nation that we have professionals in the construction industry who continue to make us proud, and it falls on us to amplify them, and further build their capacity so that they remain competitive not just nationally but regionally.

“One of the functions of the authority is the exportation of construction services, and the CEAs will bring to the forefront those who will fly our flag high internationally.”