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Draft National Building Code requires new ideas to reflect the 21st-century environment rut of inertia

OPINION
By Nashon Okowa | April 10th 2021

After nearly 50 years, we are finally amending our construction industry building code. The draft National Building Code, 2020 document was released for stakeholders’ engagement a few weeks ago. I remain doubtful on whether we shall achieve a progressive building code that reflects the 21st Century built environment. We look set to fall back into the rut of inertia. It would be insidious to even put undue hopes on the ongoing stakeholders’ debate when recent history is replete with unfortunate outcomes. This is my case against the draft building code.

Our construction industry seems to be in the shackles of the ‘old guard’ thinking. There is a cabal with philosophical dreams of absurd utopia – a deep state – its only interest is to see this industry status quo maintained to preserve their self-interest. This is no conjecture or pedantry, take a look at the recent construction industry regulations and amendments to existing acts.

There is nothing much to hold a candle to; these have been regulations to preserve the status quo and/or massage dusty egos. We now have two Acts of Parliament regulating Engineers in Kenya; Engineers Act 2011 and Engineers Technologist Act 2016. Simply because of the refusal to acknowledge the changing seasons that brought a new emerging engineering profession, Engineer Technologists, which required accommodation within the existing Engineers Act.

The recent amendment of Joint Building Council contract suffered the same malady. The common denominator was glaring – the monotonous clamour to preserve the clubs membership against any intrusion of additional members.

The National Construction Authority Defects Liability regulations 2020 is another recent example. A few privileged people, without an iota of stakeholders’ consultation, decided to do regulations on defects liability and force it down the construction industry’s throat. And yes they have done it. Despite pleas the regulations would take the country backwards, they are effective now.  

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