WHY BUILDINGS COLLAPSE IN KENYA.

WHY BUILDINGS COLLAPSE IN KENYA.
In recent years we have had several buildings collapse in Kenya. Most notable are the below:

January 2006-Building collapses in Nairobi CBD Ronald Ngala street.

From COLLAPSED BUILDINGS

http://www.communication.go.ke/content_images/accident_1.jpg

October 2009-Building collapses in Kiambu town.

From COLLAPSED BUILDINGS

January 2010. Another building collapses at Kiambu town.

From COLLAPSED BUILDINGS

http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ1LHr3WWPFuREe4XPLWgj-LzxEPP_TLrpVZQwwEhKcnqexSwMN

JUNE 2011. Building collapses in Embasasi.

From COLLAPSED BUILDINGS

http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTobNKb8ZGzID4t0NVxCKb5nhXHhPQh0MPmuXMCF0u4-eibqYxvpA

JUNE 2011. Langata Southern Bypass building collapse.

From COLLAPSED BUILDINGS

http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR7aD7MROTJyEjciTOkz0uiBpHQlI9LTbMaaHklbWploXkdxt0Slg

JUY 2011. Building collapses in Ngara, Nairobi City.

From COLLAPSED BUILDINGS

http://www.kbc.co.ke/images/pictures/BUILDING-COLLAPSEESNGARA11.jpg

SEPTEMBER 2011. Matigari Building at Mathare North, off Thika road collapses.

From COLLAPSED BUILDINGS


https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-CWuYo5WNgv8/TmskSbiO6LI/AAAAAAAAFWM/rwoBlQ0HZhA/s144/042.jpg

SEPTEMBER 2011.BUILDING COLLAPSES IN LUANDA, VIHIGA, WESTERN KENYA.

From COLLAPSED BUILDINGS

http://www.kbc.co.ke/images/pictures/Collapsed_building%20R.%20Ngala.jpg

From the above images and dates, its clear that as time progresses, more and more buildings are continuimg to collapse, creating death traps and huge financial losses to the economy.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBILITY.

As more and more people tended to live within cities in the 19th Century, the Western countries came up with the concept of the Local Government Ministry to offer solutions. This concept was borrowed into African countries such as Kenya in the 20th century.

The world over, the Local Government Ministry checks to ensure that buildings constructed are safe for human habitation.

It mainly does this task through
1. Ensuring that the buildings are designed by qualified architects and engineers.
All buildings must be approved by the Local Government before the construction commences. The bulding owner mus submit drwings through the architect and engineer for approval.

2. Ensuring the building construction is supervised by qualifies architects and engineers and constructed by qualified contractors.
The local governemnt issues a certificate of occupation after ensuring that the building is constructed to the required standards.

CASE STUDIES SHOWING THE IMPORTANCE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION

The clearest case study is the case of the recent 2010 Haiti Earthquake[7.0 on Ritcher scale]. Over 100,000 people died as a result of building collapse then.

From COLLAPSED BUILDINGS

http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSOlUZArO30cktDXPn0LH_oXDROjtFqKe5tNteQbGScKssUmVLk

The 1989 Loma Pieta , California,U.S.A Earthquake [7.1 on the Ritcher scale] resulted in 59 casualties.

From COLLAPSED BUILDINGS

http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQTeRu1jR2QRjNTbXpEFmXqKWSAte-U_zUXxPhaId5YbMD0Bt7dbQ

The September 2010 New Zealand earthquake [7.1 on the Ritcher scale] .No deaths were reported.

From COLLAPSED BUILDINGS

http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/48979000/jpg/_48979515_48979477.jpg

http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/48979000/jpg/_48979515_48979477.jpg

From the above 3 Earthquakes, it emerges that countries with proper-functioning Local Government Ministries such as U.S.A and New Zealand have fewer casualties for the same Richter scale magnitude of earthquake.

Countries such as Haiti where the Local Government ministry was reported to be riddled with corruption and inefficiencies hence not carrying out its role to the public appropriately result in many casualties and damages to property.
Therefore, the role of the Local Government Ministry to enforce and ensure that all buildings are constructed to the required standards is crucial to determine the eventual casualties and damages resulting to earthquakes. Earthquakes are forces of nature which no man can control but buildings can be made safer by the Local Governments. Earthquakes don’t kill people, only badly designed buildings do.

YOUR ROLE AS A KENYAN CITIZEN

Local Governments carry out the responsibility of checking whether buildings are safe for human habitation on behalf of the Kenyan citizens. It’s your role as a Kenyan to check whether the buildings constructed near your neighborhoods are constructed as required .
This is done through the steps below;

1. Visit the construction site in question and check if a public notice board is erected at the front showing who the Architects ,Engineers and Quantity surveyors are, the name of the building contractor and the Local Authority approval number.

2. Make an inquiry at the Local Authority offices to check if the particular building is approved. This is public information and is usually posted at the Local Authority notice boards. In Nairobi, this information is available at the Planning department public notice board located at City Hall Annex building, 2nd floor.
If the information co-relates, chances are that the building in question is following the right procedures hence no chances of collapse.
By doing so, you will have made your neighborhood safer and helped avoid casualties in case of building collapse.

3. Check whether the contractor is registered to carry out building construction works with the Ministry of Public Works and if the architect/structural engineer is carrying out periodic batch testing of concrete to determine its strength. This testing is usually done while the concrete is being mixed. A sample of the concrete is taken for testing at the nearest Ministry of Roads materials testing laboratory and its strength determined. If the crushing strength is weak, then the concrete does not pass the test. At this stage, you will need the services of the project architect/ structural engineer to interpret the strength for you.If the project is using a Registered Architect & Structural Engineer, chances are that he/she is making sure that the batch testing of concrete is being done and he/she can provide this information to you .Most domestic constructions use Normal grade concrete of 20,25,32,40 or 50 Mega Pascals.The grade differs from location e.g foundation, balcony,slab depending on the structural engineer’s drawings.Any registered structural engineer can carry out this task.Therefore, establish if the architect/engineer is registered as shown on the public site notice board,confirm with the Architect/Engineers Registration Board,then approach them to ask if periodic batch testing of concrete is being done and demand to see the results.
In all of the collapsed buildings in Kenya, none have had registered architects/engineers so if the site in your neighborhood does not have registered architect/engineers publicly available reports regarding the periodic site visits/batch testing,inform the Local Authority/Court/Architectural/Engineering Association of Kenya to take action and stop the construction.
This way, no other building should collapse in Kenya if Kenyans themselves keep vigil on construction sites in their neighborhoods.

KENYA BUREAU OF STANDARDS
The KEBS have the responsibility of ensuring that the materials used in construction are of the required standards.
The major materials that make up the building structure are cement , Steel, ballast, and sand.
CEMENT
Cement should have the KEBS approval stamp.
STEEL
KEBS should come up with a method of ensuring structural steel is of the required standard.
A few years ago, I required to purchase structural steel of a particular chemical composition.
Structural steel in other countries is available in terms of how malleable, tensile or brittle it is depending on the particular use.
The percentage ratio of Carbon, Manganese, Alluminium and Phosphorous, among other chemicals determine the structural tensile and malleability strength.
All the steel mills that I visited did not have this information. This means that the structural steel strength is not known. Therefore, there is a risk of using steel that is too brittle or too malleable, hence resulting in building failure.
The Kenyan structural steel is made up mainly using scrap metal hence very difficult to establish the final chemical composition. KEBS should come up with solutions to this to help make buildings in Kenya safer.
SAND.
The sand particle size is important in determining the structural strength of concrete. The Langata Southern bypass building collapsed because the type of sand used was quarry dust. Quarry dust is fine and spongy, almost like flour in texture hence does not provide the required grip and friction in concrete.
KEBS in conjunction with Local Government should come up with mechanisms to ensure that all sand used in construction is of the appropriate texture. This can be easily done through empowering the project Architect and Engineer with the power to stop a construction that is not using the right materials.

CONCLUSION

As time progresses, more and more buildings are collapsing.
The solution in ensuring buildings in Kenya is right here with us. The Architects and Engineers necessary to ensure this in Kenya are available. The Local Authority Ministry and Kenya Bureau of Standards are already set up. It’s all a matter of you as a Kenyan citizen to follow up and check with your neighborhood construction projects, Local Authority and KEBS on whether any particular project you think is unsafe has followed the require construction procedure.

BALL IN YOUR COURT

The ball lies squarely in your court as a citizen.If this individual intervention fails, Class Action is another possible solution whereby the ball moves to C.J Mutunga’s court[all pun intended] .He will then compel the Local Government Ministry and KEBS to do the nesessary.
Countries whereby the Citizens have made sure that their Local Government Ministries and Standards Bureau work efficiently do not suffer this type of casualty and damage.

Architect Francis Gichuhi
www.a4architect.com
+254721410684
info@a4architect.com

Francis Gichuhi (692 Posts)

Architect Francis Gichuhi . B.Arch. University of Nairobi. Registered Architect, Kenya. Member, Architectural Association of Kenya. Contacts. email info@a4architect.com. Telephone +254721410684


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  11 comments for “WHY BUILDINGS COLLAPSE IN KENYA.

  1. Trevor Kent
    January 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    What can be done if the local authority show no interest in pressing the building codes on developers. Around Kikuyu there are so many 5 and 6 story structures going up, it is rare to see notice boards naming Architects, Engineers and Builders. Who tests each mix of concrete when it is mixed on site by hand? Who inspects steelwork before the shuttering goes up? and the concrete beams when the shuttering comes off?

  2. January 11, 2012 at 6:27 am

    @kent. the local authority always comes up with the same old excuse-under staffing,lack of working tools e.t.c. I have come up with a solution that will reduce the need for more staff and reduce need for working tools e.t.c for supervision. Here it is
    http://www.a4architect.com/submit-drawings/
    With this, a ppicture of the notice board, steel structure, cube test and cube test result can be uploaded through http://www.a4architect.com/submit-drawings/ to the local authority every time casting is done.
    Lets hope they will embrace it.

  3. January 19, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    Geologist should be involved!

  4. Moses Gitau
    May 21, 2015 at 9:34 am

    This article is informative. I support your suggetion for citizen action. To jump start and guide the process, I suggest you form an associatiom or NGO. As a lawyer, I was looking up the legal and regulatory provisions for safety at work, and in particular at construction sites. We have scattered and outdated laws. Perhaps your professional association can take this up?I am writing an article on this area and hope I have your permission to cite this article.

    • May 21, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      @moses gitau, thanks. yes. feel free to cite my article

      • Moses Gitau
        May 21, 2015 at 4:14 pm

        You are faster in responding than any lawyer I know so allow me to make a disclosure. My article is complete and has a bias to safety. My friend is a Safety Officer and he was a kind resource in my writing. Of course a lawyer’s approach has a legal bias as well. We have been discussing setting up a Preassure Group to provide a citizen forum for agitating the lethargic regulatory system. Are you interested in joining the incubation process? If so, we shall be glad to make your acquintance.

  5. April 13, 2016 at 10:25 am

    expriences is the key thing to be consired

  6. Gala
    May 1, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    All new building should provide assurance of at least 50 years lifespan.

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