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Most houses in Kericho are deathtraps, says new study

By Nikko Tanui | February 24th 2021

Tebs View building, which collapsed last year in Kericho town, killing a seven-year-old boy. [Nikko Tanui, Standard]

Less than 20 per cent of residential buildings in Kericho County are safe for occupation, a new report has revealed.

The study carried out by a joint team of officers from the National Building Inspectorate and County Government of Kericho between October 26 and November 6, 2020, found that only 12 out of 68 residential buildings sampled were safe for occupation. 

According to the audit, seven of the sampled buildings were found to be dangerous while 49 of them were found to be unsafe.

“Dangerous” structures were described as those that pose an immediate danger to the public and can lead to loss of life, injury or economic loss while “unsafe” structures were described as requiring immediate measures to make them safe.

The audit was ordered following the collapse last year of a four-storey building at Tebs View Court in Kericho County.

It was based on inspection of buildings in Bureti, Belgut, Ainamoi, Soin, Kipkelion West and Kipkelion East.

Zoning regulations

Stephen Muraguri of the National Building Inspectorate said during the release of the report that most developments violated zoning regulations, including ground coverage and the plot ratio.

“The concrete strength of most structures was below the minimum standard Class 20, ”he said.

Muraguri said most structures were not compliant with statutory approvals.

“Most construction sites did not have construction boards indicating the consultants, contractors, approval details and the developer’s details,” he said.

Muraguri said most construction sites did not have copies of approved plans.

He said the construction sites had no professionals and skilled workers undertaking the developments.

“Construction site safety measures like site hoarding, personal protective equipment and safety netting were missing,” said Muraguri.

He said there were many cases of the use of substandard construction materials.

“Workmanship on most construction works was very poor. Most buildings did not have fire safety equipment and fire exit routes,” said Muraguri.

The audit was aimed at identifying unsafe buildings and check on compliance to and statutory approvals so that appropriate enforcement action could be taken.

Last November, the National Construction Authority and the County Government of Kericho ordered tenants to immediately vacate two apartment blocks adjacent to the one that collapsed at Tebs View Court, killing a seven-year-old boy.

The authorities declared the houses at Tebs View Court, which housed 69 tenants, unsafe for occupation.

Sub-standard materials

Initial reports indicated that the building that collapsed at the court was constructed with substandard materials.

The County Executive Committee member in charge of Lands and Housing, Barnabas Ngeno, condemned the three- and four-storey buildings after an analysis revealed that they were not structurally sound.

Samuel Charagu, the National Building Inspectorate building and audit director, said they had noted glaring poor workmanship during the inspection of the collapsed building.

“The beams were weak. There is inserting of surfaces after the construction compromising the structural integrity of the building,” said Charagu.

Charagu said the cutting of the beams for the insertion of the surfaces was unacceptable in terms of the structural stability of the building.

He said the infill walls were also defective since the building anchoring was improper.

“The building’s engineer seems not to be supervising the construction works at the site,” said Charagu.

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