A building that had collapsed in Nakuru Town has once again been re-occupied. Part of Mukoh Building along Mburu Gichua road collapsed late last year. The tragedy left one dead and scores injured. Many traders also lost their property.
Since then, the building which for some time had been roped off has not been used. Residents have always expected the building to be demolished but this has never happened.
“When part of a building collapses, the County Government must issue a notice to the owner. The notice is to compel the owner to bring the building down within a specified period of time,” says architect William Atinga.
Atinga adds that the county government has the authority to demolish the building and charge the owner.
“If the owner is unwilling to demolish a condemned house, the county government can use its resources. But the owner must be issued with an invoice for costs,” says Atinga a former councillor.
Before the building collapsed, the National Construction Authority (NCA) had already termed the building dangerous. An officer at NCA offices says that they gave the owner a notice which was also copied to the Nakuru Police Boss.
“We had found cracks in the building. We gave an order to the owner to have the residents vacate the building. We also copied the notice to the County government and the OCS,” says the NCAA official.
The NCA official was categorical that they had not sanctioned people to return to the building.
“I am unaware that traders are back on the building, are you sure they are?” asked the officer in disbelief.
When the writer passed by the building this afternoon, one of the shops selling phone accessories and mobile money transfers was open for business. Another shop was being cleaned in preparation. Later in the afternoon, the “X” and “NCA” initials had been masked off the door.
Asked about the building, Biashara Ward MCA Peter Wanyaguthie said he had also enquired about it.
“I called inquiring about the building and was informed the engineer had given the building a clean bill of health. Let me enquire and call back, ” said the MCA before disconnecting. Further attempts to reach him were futile.
When influential Nakuru blogger asked NCA about the building, the response was similar to the one given by the official.
(1) Hello @Moseax , Please note that demolitions are carried out by the respective county governments if the developer fails to pull down the building themselves. Once a building is earmarked for demolition the developer has upto 90 days to pull it down <BA>
— NCA Kenya (@ncakenya) January 18, 2018
(2) Failure to which the county government demolishes it. If the situation is dire, the developer is given two weeks, If not, once evacuations are done, the developer can get an injuction allowing them more time to pull it down. Please note that NCA does not carry out demolitions
— NCA Kenya (@ncakenya) January 18, 2018
Please note that demolitions are carried out by respective county governments,” responded NCA know Twitter. The tweet said that the developer has 90 days to bring down the building. In dire situations, the developer has only two weeks.
Environmentalist and activist James Wakibia had also raised the issue on Facebook. While most people agreed the building should be demolished to avert further damage, some thought it should be let to stand.
Old Muko Plaza (now condemned ) should have been brought down by now…are they waiting for a disaster to happen so that they can start running up and down. … mambo ingine haieleweki.. … James Wakibia
“This is someone’s investment. An engineer’s assessment gave the building a clean bill of health,” says a senior county government official. The official went ahead to post a copy of the Engineer’s report on Facebook.
Officials at NCA say they’re yet to re-inspect the building.
“All I can promise is that our officers will be at the site on Monday morning. We’ll inspect the building and then we can give our report. Until then, I wouldn’t advise anyone to occupy the building,” says an NCA officer.
A lot of traders who had businesses are the building have already found alternative spaces. Some are yet to reopen but are adamant they can’t go back to that building.
“This building is a disaster waiting to happen. In Nakuru, we have very poor disaster management and response mechanisms. The only way we can feel confident is for the building to be brought down,” says a resident. This is the opinion of many residents who feel that the only way that the building would be left still standing was through corruption.