Everest Park, a residential settlement in Mavoko Area of Machakos County was last week a part of an inspection exercise by the National Building Inspectorate.
The multi sectoral agency responded to official communication from the National Construction Authority (NCA) following alerts by the residents of cracks appearing in the four year old unit.
Residents first complained of cracks seemingly emanating from the foundation to the walls. There was also a concern about electrical cables located close to water tank, leaking roofs where the roofing tiles had caved in and mouldy walls.
Everest Park, having already been occupied for four years, lay outside the Authority’s mandate, prompting official communication to NBI and the Machakos County Government.
Led by Eng. S.K Mwaguri, the Inspectorate commenced an audit exercise on Wednesday, 20th September 2017. The scope of the audit is to determine if indeed the residential units are fit for habitation. Several have already been evacuated. Each unit was sold for an average of 4.5 million shillings.
Eng. Mwaguri noted some structural concerns. “We’ve noted some defects…cracks on the wall which might be indicative of settlement of the structure, and that can be rectified by strengthening the foundation.”
Rev. Stephen Makau, the Chair of the Everest Park Residents Association, was present at the audit and said they had been experiencing the same issues since 2014. “We have taken up the issue with Shelter Afrique and Everest Limited from whom we bought these houses but no action has yet to be taken.”.
The project developers are listed as Everest Ltd and Shelter Afrique, who formed a joint venture to undertake the project.
Shelter Afrique is a pan-African financier that deals with development of affordable housing. They released a statement following the audit on their website affirming they have always cooperated with the regulators, but also recusing themselves from blame.
The statement reads:
“The financier has stated that while it takes the welfare and safety of all the affected seriously, it was also equally important to set the record straight. Everest Park was developed with Everest Limited as a joint venture to which Shelter Afrique is a shareholder. Therefore Shelter Afrique as a separate entity does not have a mandate to manage the development. Shelter Afrique as a shareholder has exited the development, having completed the contractual six months’ quality control period.
Additionally, it should be noted that the cracks in the buildings are isolated to two blocks of which these cracks are recent manifestations, and residents have been living on the property for four years.
It was further revealed by the financier, that the developers have followed due process and has always cooperated with the National Construction Authority, National Building Inspectorate and the County Government.The inspection report is meant to be submitted ten days from the date of inspection; the inspection took place on the 18th of September 2017, a decision on how to resolve these matters cannot be taken before then.
Addressing reports of incurring a loss on the property, Shelter Afrique & Everest Limited, stated that this reporting was erroneous and should be corrected. The first phase of the development has been completely sold, and residents have taken ownership of the property.
It should also be considered that Shelter Afrique & Everest Limited have held meetings with directors of the Manager, Everest Park Management Limited Everest Park, on the 28th July 2017 and the 18th August 2017 in which the matter of the inspection by the NCA and the County Government was noted to be ongoing.
While remaining resolute that the facts of the matter be properly represented, Shelter Afrique, however, conceded that homeownership is a deeply personal matter and the safety, well-being and quality of life of the residents remain paramount. Shelter Afrique & Everest Limited have convened meetings with all stakeholders to address concerns as they wait for the inspection report to be filed.”
The audit is currently ongoing, and the entire exercise is to take at least 10 days. The NIB team will conduct a series of tests, and the outcome will be detailed in a report which will recommend further action.