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Investigation of Construction Failures In Kenya for Enhancement of Development Control

July 13th, 2017 / by mjenzi

One of National Construction Authority’s key functions is to undertake or commission research into any matter concerning the construction industry. Although the Kenyan Construction Industry has experienced exponential growth and has been a major contributor to the country’s GDP, it has faced enormous challenges in quality assurance because of the alarming rate of collapsing structures. Over the past five years alone, over 30 buildings have collapsed causing fatalities and injuring hundreds of innocent people.

According to the Building Audit Report (2015), in the early 80’s and 90’s Kenya had almost no cases of collapsed buildings. As the construction boom continues in the country some key challenges including failed construction structures are on the rise. Nairobi’s Eastlands estates, particularly Umoja, Huruma, Dandora, Kayole, Kariobangi, Doonholm, Tena and even as far afield as Zimmerman, for example, teem with poorly-constructed structures, many of them disasters waiting to happen. As demand increased the urban planning requirements were not effectively conformed to and developers took advantage of the inadequate capacity to effectively enforce the building and infrastructural standards. Over the decades the industry has experienced management challenges with scattered regulatory systems. According to industry players the lack of coordinated efforts has led to proliferation of the industry with quack practitioners.

In light of the foregoing, the result has been the mushrooming of grotesque and unsafe buildings and infrastructure. Besides being poorly constructed, some are located on sewer or electricity lines and road reserves (Daily Nation, June 2003). In general, Kenya has lost more than Sh1.4 billion as a result of collapsed buildings in the last 15 years (Arch. Gideon Mulyungi, Chair-BORAQS, July 2011). Over and above the financial losses, lives have been lost, limbs maimed and even sources of livelihood being cut short due to these construction failures. So far there is no reliable documented data on accident/collapses/construction fails in the construction industry because practitioners prefer to work incognito.

These among many other reasons are the motivation for the NCA to commission a research so that a consultative way forward can be designed and executed. The Authority began an investigation process on the spate of Construction failures in the Domestic Construction Industry and has so far held three consultative meetings with key stakeholders between May and July 2017 where a roadmap was generated and a draft proposal as well as a data collection tool for use in the pilot study created.

NCA’s vision is to improve the quality, health and safety of construction industry in Kenya. The study to be carried out across the country will be steered by NCA working in collaboration with ACoRCE (Annual Construction Research Conference) Editorial Committee consisting of consultants and researchers of varied competencies. The expected output of the study is a policy framework for development control and optimum operational performance of the industry. These results will be useful to NCA and other agencies in development control, developers and scholars, construction firms and construction workers. Accordingly, NCA will do evidence-based capacity building and training programmes to meet international best practices.