35 out of 100 buildings in Kenya are likely to fail the safety test, the National Construction Authority (NCA) has discovered in its latest survey.
The finding were pegged on issues such as physical, social and environmental considerations, which entail structural integrity, energy consumption and environmental protection.
Since 1990, 87 buildings have collapsed around the country, the peak being in 2015 when 21 failed buildings were documented. Over 200 Kenyans have died between 1990 and 2019, following the collapse of buildings.
According to NCA Executive Director Maurice Akech, building failure does not necessarily mean collapse.
“When I talk about failure, I’m not talking about collapse. It could be something that is bordering on safety, maybe there’s no proper lighting inside or the access is not good,” he said.
Poor workmanship was discovered to be the main cause of the collapse with 51 cases observed, followed by substandard materials with 40 cases and poor structural design with 36.
Non-compliance with statutory and safety requirements was fourth with 13 cases while inadequate maintenance closed the top five causes of “failed” buildings with two cases
The data further reveals that out of the 87 documented cases, 66 per cent of the buildings collapsed when they were complete while 34 per cent were under construction.
The building most likely to collapse are those of between two to six storeys.
The leading county with the highest number of collapsed buildings is Nairobi with 33 cases followed by Kiambu with 14 cases and Nakuru and Mombasa each with five cases.
“The study established that the building collapses are predominantly found in cities and peri-urban counties. This can be attributed to high demand for residential and commercial buildings in the major towns,” said the NCA report.
For majority of the cases, no action was taken against the people responsible.
“In ideal situations and also as learnt from best practices, a building collapse is followed by thorough investigation that leads to prosecutions and reforms that strengthen building control processes. Majority of the cases have no clear records of actions taken,” added the report.
NCA will have the leeway to demolish defective buildings if new bill sails through to become law.
The bill, which is an amendment of the National Construction Authority Act 2011 will empower the NCA board to investigate defective buildings, hold an engineer, architect or quantity surveyor accountable for collapsed buildings and refer them for a criminal trial.