Second Building Collapse in Kenya Prompts Audit of All Buildings

By TOM ODULA | January 6, 2015

Kenya’s president ordered an audit of all buildings in the capital on Monday after an eight-story residential building collapsed, killing at least two people in the city’s second deadly collapse in a month caused by bad construction, officials said.

In December, eight people died when a building collapsed in Kaloleni, another lower-income area of Nairobi.

“The president is appalled that the building falls in a pattern of many structures across the country, that have been constructed without adherence to the basic laws and regulations governing housing development,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta’s spokesman, Manoah Esipisu.

A high demand for housing in Nairobi means some property developers often bypass building regulations to cut costs and maximize profits. Architectural Society of Kenya has estimated that 50 percent of structures in Nairobi are not up to code.

The president expects a full investigation into the developers and anyone else involved in the approval of the collapsed building’s construction, Esipisu said, adding that those found culpable should be charged in court.

One of the victims in Sunday’s building collapse died on arrival at the hospital, and a child’s body was retrieved from the rubble in the lower-income Huruma area, Nairobi police chief Benson Kibue said. Rescuers saved 38 people, he said, and the military assisted in the search for survivors.

Eight residents of the building still cannot be found, said Kenya Red Cross official Nick Thiongo.

The upper floors were being built in quick succession, putting pressure on the lower floors, said Nairobi County Chief Planner Tom Odongo. The construction had not been approved by his office, he said.

“We had warned even residents not to occupy it,” Odongo said.

Plans approved by the county government for the construction of the building showed that it was supposed to be a five story building, said Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero.

Kenyatta ordered the audit for all buildings in Nairobi “to prevent similar disasters in the future.”

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