AAK’s Statement on collapsed buildings in Huruma Nairobi and Nyali Mombasa

Dear Members of the Architectural Association of Kenya,

Please receive greetings from the AAK Secretariat.

You will all undoubtedly be aware of the recent and unfortunate collapse of a building in Huruma, Nairobi;and Nyali ,Mombasa there has been plenty of media attention surrounding this calamitous occurrence. AAK condoles with those who have lost loved ones and wishes a quick recovery and return to normal life to those who were injured or otherwise adversely affected. God bless those who lost lives.

AAK members will be interested to know that AAK has been actively engaged with other stakeholders as we all gets to grips with the ongoing rescue and recovery operations in Huruma. In this regard, and as the first step towards constructive engagement over the complex matters surrounding the deplorable state of the built environment in parts of Kenya, AAK has set out to actively cooperate, in a multi-agency approach, with the following institutions:

  • Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development (MLHUD), specifically the State Department of Public Works
  • National Construction Authority (NCA)
  • National Building Inspectorate (NBI)
  • Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors (BORAQS)
  • Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya (IQSK)

This cooperation is with regard to the following specific measures:

The inspection, evacuation and demolition of all dangerous and condemned buildings in Nairobi.

Urgent evacuation efforts of all tenants in the 50 plus most vulnerable buildings in Nairobi of the 259 that have so far been condemned by the NBI, in conjunction with the Nairobi City County Government.

Urgent structural testing of all 2259 buildings listed by the NBI as being dangerous.

Quick confirmation (in all the above cases) of any AAK member or other registered professionals involvement in providing any form of negligent advise related to the 2259 dangerous buildings. There is an irrevocable commitment among the professional bodies to ensure swift disciplinary action is taken, commensurate with the heinous nature of the crimes before us.

Publication of all such lists of professionals found to have been involved.

We have jointly resolved not to act in isolation, and to ensure that this cooperation will now continue beyond the life of the current crisis.

AAK also notes that the key function of development control resides squarely with the local planning authority, Nairobi City County (NCC) Government in this case. Over the years AAK has had good relations with NCC and together we have achieved useful results across numerous areas of service delivery; AAK will remain available constructively engage with NCC, as with other County Governments.

But whereas we may understand some of the resource and governance challenges they have historically and continue to face, those elected into office are presumed to have the necessary power and resources to provide a service to citizenry; for that reason must be held to account. The deplorable conditions in which the people of Huruma and elsewhere live – well beyond collapsing buildings – are a matter that we must continually insist is remedied forthwith. Building with reckless abandon as is the case in Huruma and elsewhere, with our without approved plans, mustn’t be allowed to continue! The dastardly conduct (omission or commission) of officers at decision making levels in development control is roundly condemned; AAK heartily supports urgent disciplinary action and personal accountability. Anything short will be propagation of unedifying mediocrity.

Finally, and as an Association of respected professionals, AAK will remain unwavering in its resolve to hold accountable not just offending members, but all institutions concerned with the management of our built environment. We will continue to actively engage across the board and provide criticism at all levels; to the executive arms of both National and County Governments, the Judiciary (over the years, why hasn’t any offending developer/builder/consultant been convicted of manslaughter?!), and Parliament (the legal instruments available for the management of the built environment must serve their purposes, else be revised). Government can never abdicate its responsibility to guarantee public interest!

In closing, members of AAK are invited to support all efforts at addressed the current challenges faced in built environment, at all levels, and with all the expertise and know how available to them. You are of course also invited to send your reactions to this communication.

 

Waweru Gathecha

President, AAK