State ropes in professional bodies to support affordable housing plan

Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Charles Hinga. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The government will rely on public institutions to implement the Affordable Housing Programme (AHP) as a cost-cutting measure.

Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Charles Hinga said they will give priority to the Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK), Institution of Engineers of Kenya (IEK) and the Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya (IQSK).

He said the AHP costs and designs submitted by the three institutions will be used in the new tenders and AHP schemes.

Speaking during the IQSK annual summit and gala dinner in Mombasa County on October 30, Mr Hinga said the submissions will not only bring down the construction costs but also the prices of homes to be sold to Kenyans. 

He said the state Department of Housing and Urban Development will re-advertise all cancelled tenders for the AHP soon.

The PS said the immediate outcome of the partnership is that his department has now resolved to open opportunities for professional services in the AHP across the country.

“In the next few days, we shall be re-advertising the cancelled tenders. I am particularly pleased that these institutions have formed the forum to partner with the department in AHP,” said Hinga.

He said IQSK president Jennifer Musyimi made a good submission to President William Ruto on the re-engineering of construction costs for AHP in Kenya.

“The president accepted the submission and today as a country we are proud,” said Hinga.

National Construction Authority (NCA) board vice chairperson Mercy Okiro said the government has drafted the National Building Code 2023 and National Construction Authority (Amendment) Regulations 2023 in line with Section 42 of the NCA Act to regulate the construction sector.

Building code

She said the outdated Building Code of 1968 governing the building sector lacked effective controls and enforcement mechanisms and has become a major impediment to the development of the built environment.

“Unfortunately, several incidents of building failures and collapses have led to the loss of innocent lives and destruction of property,” said Ms Okiro.

She said the two laws will lead to enhanced building standards and streamline building approvals and accountability with qualified persons.

Okiro said the shift from prescriptive material to a performance-based regime will enable creativity, new technologies, and materials, and provide for construction risk management in the built environment.

“The implementation of the NCA (Amendment) Regulations 2023 will result in more emphasis on experience-based evidence for registration whilst the previous criteria were document-based.

“This will enable the authority to validate the technical competencies of applicants.”

The new regulations will also split civil works into road works and water works to underscore the technical differences between the two sectors.

Also to be split is ungrouped specialised works in mechanical engineering services and electrical engineering services to provide a more comprehensive outline of the industry.

“The value of construction works under the building, roads, and water sectors have been increased from the current rates.

“Notably, the construction works for the specialized works were adjusted downwards,” Ms Okiro said.

IQSK president Musyimi said that being involved in AHP will go a long way in ensuring professionals in the built environment work to improve efficiency in delivering public projects.

“We have even had meetings with his excellency the president to discuss how professionals are involved in a bid to ensure employment creation for Kenyans. This will be a test of our integrity and credibility on the job,” she said.