At the intersection of Uhuru Highway and Kenyatta Avenue, the iconic Nyayo House towers over the Nairobi CBD reminiscent of a dark era that many Kenyans would wish to forget.
At 27 floors and more than 80m high, Nyayo House was completed in 1983 and was one of the first skyscrapers in the city, alongside the now Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) and Hilton Hotel.
The building was designed to be the provincial headquarters of Nairobi and has since inception housed several high-profile state agencies, departments and ministries.
These include the Nairobi County Commissioner Office, Ministry of State for Immigration and Registration of Persons, Ministry of East African Community and Social Protection, and Ministry of Petroleum and Mining among others.
Despite the centrality and significance of Nyayo House to the hundreds of Kenyans that troop the building each week for public services, the government building is a dilapidated shadow of its former self.
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According to the latest audit report by Auditor General Ms Nancy Gathungu, the management of Nyayo House says it is in a sad state of disrepair.
“Some of the fire exits/escape stairways have been sealed off or permanently locked, making them fully inaccessible in case of emergency,” explained Gathungu in her latest audit report.
The existing firefighting appliances have not been serviced or tested for a long time, casting doubt on their viability in the event of a fire.
“In addition, tree roots outside the building along the drainage lines have not been pruned or uprooted, yet they can easily cause damage to the service lines and cause blockages,” she said.
And despite hundreds of Kenyans trooping to Nyayo House each week to apply for or collect their passports, the building’s archaic designs fail to accommodate the needs of persons with disability.
“The washrooms have half walls adjacent to the doors, which makes it difficult for persons with disabilities using wheelchairs to access services,” says the Auditor General’s report.
“The building also lacks an accessibility ramp to make it easily accessible to persons with physical disabilities, who may not be able to use the stairs, especially, and whenever there are power failures and lifts are not functioning,” states the report.