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To stop collapse of buildings, give NCA teeth to bite

OPINION
By Nashon Okowa | September 11th 2021

A business building that collapsed in Kamukunji. [Wilberforce Okwiri,Standard]

The scripture in the book of Jeremiah 17:9, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…,” lays bare the wickedness of mankind. So it should not surprise us when some rogue contractors take shortcuts while constructing buildings.

The onus is on the construction industry statutory authorities to stop people from executing such projects. When crime goes up, the police are castigated for sleeping on the job. It must not be different on the rising collapse of buildings. The authorities in charge must shoulder the blame. 

Kinoo and Gachie are just a stone’s throw away from the capital. If such huge buildings could be carried out to such levels without proper supervision, then you wonder what is happening in areas far from the city – the centre of power. To create a robust construction industry watchdog like the National Construction Authority (NCA), we must sufficiently fund it.  

For an industry that contributes nearly 7.5 per cent of our GDP and still growing, we must ensure NCA and National Environment Management Authority (Nema) have enough funds to recruit enough construction supervisors to oversight the built environment. These bodies have been starving, more so after scrapping of the levies. What is the current ratio of the building supervisors to the ongoing construction work? 

Secondly, we must give NCA teeth to bite. How we miraculously created such a body without arrest and prosecutorial powers is unfathomable. All they do is clerical work of marking buildings and giving notices that have no consequences of disregard.

It is painful when I hear them say a project was served with notice to stop but the developer disregarded the order, because they know NCA is a toothless body. We must amend the NCA Act and give the authority powers to arrest and charge. 

In the counties, I would encourage those in-charge to regularly rotate construction supervisors and demand more professionalism. Corruption reigns supreme there, exposing hundreds of lives to weak buildings. I believe NCA is our sure bet to supervise the construction sector. Until this is done, the next building will collapse, soon.

Chairman Association of Construction Managers of Kenya. [email protected] 

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