The problem of buildings collapse in Kenya is back again. It is hardly three months since a building collapsed in Huruma estate killing 49 people and injuring many more. Now another building has collapsed in Kariobangi and a wall in Westlands killing three people.
This is despite the County Government and Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development talking tough after the Huruma tragedy and assuring the public that measures will be taken to prevent similar occurrences in future.
The begging question is whether the Government is serious about enforcing building laws and regulations that ensure adherence to proper standards and safety during construction or the country is only treated to public relation gimmicks when such tragedy occurs.
According to Nairobi County Government, there are over 50,000 buildings in Nairobi that were constructed without their approval and one would have expected that after the Huruma incident, visible corrective measures would be taken to address this challenge.
The Nairobi City County Regularization of Development Act was enacted in September last year to provide a framework for regularization of unapproved buildings. However, little has been heard about its implementation.
The Government should stop being reactive and waiting to issue threats and talking tough after buildings have collapsed and lives have been lost. Kara calls on Governor Evans Kidero to disclose the following to the public:
1. How many developers who undertook construction without the County Government approval have applied for fresh permits and had their buildings inspected for safety as per his directive in May this year?
2. If indeed the directive was heeded, how many buildings have been identified for demolition, where exactly are they located and when is the demolition commencing? If the directive was not heeded by the developers what action has been taken or will be taken against them?
3. What is the status of implementation of The Nairobi City County Regularization of Development Act?
4. What practical measures have the County Government put in place to prevent construction of more substandard and unapproved buildings?
KARA reiterate the need for the County Government to actively engage Residents Associations in addressing the challenge of substandard buildings.
The Governor should move with speed to have the Nairobi City County Community and Neighbourhood Associations Engagement Bill, 2015, enacted. The Bill provides a framework of engagement between Residents Associations and the County Government.
The Associations should have a bigger say on the type and quality of buildings coming up within their neighbourhoods. It is time for more action and less tough talk by the Government.