The National Building Inspectorate (NBI), a multi-sectoral agency which the National Construction Authority is a part of, has given the developers of a building that had been condemned for demolition a conditional go ahead to proceed with salvaging it.
Construction of the 17 storey building located at the junction of Kimathi Street and Kenyatta Avenue had been suspended by both NCA and Nairobi City County Government (NCCG) officials in December 2016 due to a myriad of non-compliance issues. The building stands on the site of the former Nakumatt Downtown which was gutted down by fire in January 2009.
Part of the reasons behind the site’s closure was that there was no resident supervision team fit for a project of its scale. The building did not have a fire exit or a staircase to access the basement and the concrete works and overall workmanship was of poor quality.
The project’s architect, Simiyu Nakitare and structural engineer, Ebatech Consulting Engineers (who had at some point withdrawn from the project) have since been suspended by the Architectural Association of Kenya and Institution of Engineers of Kenya respectively.
The nod to salvage the building was given after structural audit reports done by consultants hired by the developer and an independent audit by the Material, Testing and Research division of the Ministry of Transport Infrastructure and Urban Development both found that the building could be salvaged.
Speaking during a site visit at the affected building on Thursday, 30th August, NBI Secretary and National Disaster Management Unit Deputy Director Qs. Moses Nyakiongora said that the multi-sectorial agency was content with the methodology for salvaging that had been presented by rehabilitation and retrofitting experts on behalf of the developer and that the salvaging process will proceed once the developer provides all the necessary compliance paperwork to NCA and NCCG. On NCA’s part, this includes registration of the project, engagement of a registered contractor and accredited construction workers as well as safety measures such as hoarding and PPE (personal protective equipment).
NBI was established by a Presidential Directive in 2016, following a series of fateful building collapses across the country. The Inspectorate was mandated to undertake a comprehensive audit of all existing buildings with a view of profiling those that did not meet the standards of construction, as well as immediate demolition of all buildings and structures deemed inhabitable. To date, a total of 4831 buildings have been audited, 650 of which requiring immediate testing. 34 buildings, ranging from four to seven stories in height have also been demolished.
The agencies represented in the Inspectorate include NCA, NCCG, and National Youth Service (NYS), the National Disaster Management Unit and the Kenya Police.