NCA Executive Director Eng. Maurice Akech on 29th April, 2021 led Authority officials and others from concerned agencies in a series of meetings with officials from Vihiga County that culminated in the commencement of investigations into the collapse of a gate at Mbale Referral Hospital morgue which was under construction.
Preliminary investigations into the collapse which resulted in the death of one person and left several others injured indicated that despite NCA suspending the site due to non-compliance on 6th May, 2019, McFinely Healthcare Limited -the contractor awarded the project- resumed works on 24th February 2021 without seeking requisite approvals.
While addressing members of the fourth estate NCA Executive Director Eng. Maurice Akech said that given the development was a public project, the investigating team would ensure it addresses all areas of concern to get to the root cause of the collapse and come up with sound recommendations that will see the project completed for the realization of its intended purpose.
On his part, Vihiga County Governor Wilber Otichilo expressed confidence in the investigating team. “We have agreed that these technical institutions led by NCA should carry out a technical assessment of what happened and give solutions and recommendations on how to move forward.”
The delegation later visited the scene of the collapse and carried out preliminary assessments.
NCA independently and or at the request of institutions, conducts investigations into building failures of varying degrees. A recent case in point being the NCA Board inquiry into the collapse of a four-storey residential building in Ngoingwa Estate, Thika. The investigation was conducted at the request of Kiambu County Government and upon conclusion, its findings were presented to County officials by a team led by Qs. David Gaitho-NCA Board Chairman on 19th March, 2021.
Kwale County Woman Representative Hon. Zulekha Hassan on 16th February 2020 officially launched the National Construction Authority’s Mothers Room at its Upper Hill Headquarters, in a ceremony that celebrated one of the first such facilities in a government institution.
The ceremony was attended by members of NCA’s top management, as well as Women in Real Estate President Robyn Emmerson and Vice President Emma Miloyo, State Department for Gender (Nairobi) representative Pamela Karimi and Nairobi City County Gender Affairs representative Mercy Murugi.
NCA General Manager, Corporate Affairs Mr. James Kilonzi highlighted the Authority’s commitment to stakeholder relationships, which were critical to the success of Authority operations. WIRE, upon learning of the Authority’s plans to create a Mothers Room at its offices, organized a competition for Architecture students, in order to expose the younger generation of designers. NCA sponsored the competition, and the winning team’s design was used to create the current space.
NCA Human Resource Manager Paul Kariuki noted that the Authority’s young population means that inevitably the workforce is composed of new parents, and the presence of a Mothers Room means higher productivity as the welfare of the breastfeeding mothers was taken into consideration.
The Authority ‘s Human Resource Policy on the welfare of employees, recognizes the importance of promoting employee well- being in the work place. It is therefore committed to providing services and benefits that not only motivate employees but also inspire to become more productive. The Mothers Room is also aligned to the The Breastfeeding Mothers Bill of 2019 and Health Act of 2017, which provide for the right of an infant to exclusively breastfeed for six months. It also places an obligation on the employer to provide breastfeeding working mothers with rooms to either breastfeed or express their milk. The Breastfeeding Bill further provides for the standards of such rooms.
Hon. Hassan lauded NCA for setting the pace, and called on the regulator to instill the same culture in work spaces which were currently being constructed or even those in existence.
“I have borne three children during my terms serving in Parliament, and I know firsthand what it means not to have such a facility,” she said. “. Breastfeeding is a basic human right and the foundation of human existence, yet it remains a global problem. Women are asked to choose between career and family, which should never be the case Breastfeeding is critical to the growth of a child’s organs, especially the brain. A Mothers’ Room ensures an increase in productivity for the mothers, as well as loyalty to the organization.”
She added, “My request to NCA is to promote the Mothers Room to a full crèche, where parents can leave their children and be able to attend to their duties in the workplace. Further, the Authority should play its part in ensuring all commercial properties have this facility.”
Arch. Miloyo added that with the ongoing stakeholder participation workshops for the Draft National Building Regulations (Building Code) 2020, it was an opportune time to include Mothers’ Rooms in the basic standards for all commercial workplaces.
The benefits of a Mothers Room and crèche in any organization includes reduction of the amount of leave requests made to attend doctor’s appointments for both mother and child, increased productivity and employee, reduction of maternity related absenteeism which can translate into 30-70% of all absences, increased retention of female workers and overall reduced employee turnover rates, eliminating the need to hire, train or retrain new staff.
One of the biggest hurdles many companies face is a lack of awareness of the needs of breastfeeding employees, and the basic steps that can be taken to support them.
NCA Registration and Compliance General Manager Qs. Susan Ruto reiterated that the Authority would continue to champion the construction of inclusive workspaces
The National Construction Authority has launched the public participation workshops for the Draft National Building Regulations 2020, also referred to as the Building Code.
The country wide workshops will provide stakeholders with an opportunity to interact with the Draft Regulations, and offer their views, opinions, suggestions and critiques.
The workshops will be held simulatenously in dual locations, starting with Mombasa and Kisumu on the 16th of February, Nyeri and Kakamega on the 18th of February.
Additional workshops in the month of February will take place at the Kenya School of Government in Embu on the 19th, North Eastern National Polytechnic in Garissa on the 22nd and Merica Hotel in Nakuru on the 25th.
The workshops will culminate in Nairobi on the 2nd of March at the Bomas of Kenya. In addition to these, the Authoruty will also hold stakeholder engagement sessions with the Council of Governors and professional associations. This will be followed by a stakeholder validation session, after which the Regulations will be taken back to Parliament…..
The Authroity has been at the forefront of agitating for a new Building Code, given that the current Code dates back to 1968, and is therefore inadequate, lacking effective and objective controls and enforcement mechanisms.
The need to review the 1968 building code arose out of the construction collapses that were witnessed in Kenya in the 1990s. In 1996, following the collapse of the SunBeam Building, a Commission led by Dr. R. G.M Mutiso examined the existing Building Laws, By-laws and Regulations and made recommendations with a view to prevent incidences similar to that collapse.
Since then, several attempts made to revise the Building Code have been piece-meal and have not met the desired results nor have they been fully embraced by various stakeholders
On 20th April 2009, the then Coalition Government launched a task force committee to review and harmonize laws and regulations governing the building and construction industry. The task force came up with the comprehensive and integrated Draft Building Regulations 2009. The regulations were never adopted nor implemented. In October 2019, the Cabinet gave direction to finalize and adopt the building code of Kenya. In this connection, the NCA Act No. 41 of 2011 was to be amended to anchor the Building Code and enforce it. This was done through The Business Laws (Amendment) Act on 20th March 2020. Unfortunately due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, public participation could not commence immediately.
The Principal Secretary, State Department for Public Works on 25th November 2019 appointed a Committee to guide the review and finalization of the draft building code. Further, the National Construction Authority was tasked to steer and coordinate the review process. Since the launch, the committee has held several workshops to review the various thematic areas and consulted key stakeholders including professional associations, Government agencies, the Council of Governors, the private sector, and other interested groups. This resulted in the endorsement of the draft Building Code 2020.
The office of the Attorney General reviewed the draft Code and has approved it for stakeholder engagement and public participation.
It is expected the operationalization of this draft Building Code 2020 in the built environment will achieve a more healthy, safe, convenient, and optimal use of resources, and is expected to lead to enhanced professionalism and the reduction of corruption, streamlined building approval, enhanced accountability and a reduction of construction claims due to clarity of roles of all parties.
Additionally, there will be enhanced collaboration and coordination among the actors. The shift from prescriptive material to a performance-based regime will enable creativity, new technologies, materials and will attract increased investors in the construction industry due to predictable framework, which will lead to industrialization of buildings.
The Draft Code also allows for revision every five years to adapt to changing micro and macro environments and provides for construction risk management in the built environment, and also applies to all human settlements in Kenya without segregation and discrimination.
All stakeholders are encouraged to read the Draft Code and submit any questions, clarifications, suggested revisions and additions. The Code can be downloaded HERE, while the full list of dates and venues for the participation workshops can be viewed HERE.