Ksh 379 Million Proposed Nyamira County Office Building Collapses, Who is at Fault?

Ksh 379 Million Proposed Nyamira County Office Building Collapses, Who is at Fault?
Image of the collapsed proposed Nyamira County Assembly Headquarters. Photo/ Courtesy

Last week on Thursday, Kenyans were puzzled by the mystery of how a Ksh379million project came tumbling down amid its construction.

The Nyamira County Assembly Building was under construction when the staircase of the five-storey building collapsed. According to eyewitnesses, the workers who were present at the site had little chance of running for safety.

According to Nyamira County Commissioner Gikaro Mariba, all the workers who had been trapped in the building were safely evacuated and rushed to Nyamira Country Referral Hospital.

Speaking while at the site, the county’s Health County Executive Commissioner (CEC) Dr. Silas Ayunga noted that of the ten injured, only three had severe injuries. They are still being closely monitored and under the observation of the county medical specialists.

Adding to his remarks, commissioner Mariba stated that an investigation has been launched to establish the cause of the incident.

Nyamira County Assembly Speaker Moffat Teya also tasked the Department of Public Works, particularly the Project Manager and the entire team of Engineers together with the Contractor to expeditiously investigate and give a comprehensive report on the matter.

“I urge our good residents to be calm and that once the Report from the Contractor, the Project Manager, and the entire team of Engineers is ready we shall publicize it to the public to know what exactly transpired,” he mentioned.

While the workers who had been trapped in the building were lucky to escape the collapse and no causalities being noted, public funds seem to be mismanaged by those in charge.

Even as the county assembly expects a detailed report on the happenings that led to the collapse of the proposed Nyamira County Assembly headquarters, questions still linger in the minds of many as this is a major project for the county, and such ought not to have been witnessed.

According to reports, the contractor had already completed two floors and was putting the final touches on the third floor of the five-storey building.

[Image of the collapsed proposed Nyamira County Assembly Headquarters.Photo/ Courtesy]

The last Auditor General’s report revealed that the county had awarded a contract to M/S Jetta Builders Limited for the construction of the six-storey office block at a sum of Ksh 379 million. Their agreement stipulated that the work would run from June 13th, 2018 to June 13th, 2021. An agreement that may have to be reviewed following the recent happenings.

In the report, the Auditor General further noted that a physical visit to the site on the progress of the project carried out in October 2019 divulged that Ksh44 million had already been paid to the contractor, however, at the time the building was behind schedule by six months.

In 2016, the contractor awarded the tender to build the now collapsed building, Jetta Builders Limited had a case with the county government of Kisii over the renovation of Kisii County Assembly offices. At the time, it was revealed that non-compliance with the physical planning standards was found to be caused by the failure of the County Government of Kisii to ensure that developers obtain the obligatory development permissions in addition to meeting other requirements such as,; using professionals and ensuring regular inspection of buildings during construction.

The interpretation of the applicable planning standards of building lines by the County Government when approving building plans was found to have been misleading and eventually contributing to non-compliance. It was concluded that the problems ensued due to insufficient development control, therefore contributing to unsustainable spatial development.

One then wonders whether Nyamira County Assembly did a due diligence of ensuring that M/S Jetta Builders Limited rightly qualified to be awarded the contract.

National Construction Authority Mourice Oketch is to lead the industry players in inspecting the building that collapsed at the Nyamira County Assembly.

In March 2021, Members of Parliament withdrew a bill that had granted the National Construction Authority (NCA) authority to destroy buildings in all 47 countries that were non-compliant.

In their argument, the lawmakers noted that some sections of the Business Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 be amended, especially the sections affecting the National Construction Authority Act, 2011.

Amos Kimunya, the Majority Leader, expressed concerns that the sections granting NCA power to pull down faulty buildings were contentious and affected counties, hence would require the input of the Senate thus delaying the passage of the bill.

“Having acceded to a request by the Leader of Majority to withdraw the sections touvhing on NCA and the Land Registration Act, I direct that the Business LLaws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 shall proceed to Second Reading without reference to the sections touching on the two Acts of Parliament,” Speak Muturi ruled.

The ruling, therefore, halted all and any intentions of NCA to destroy all faulty buildings across the country.