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Agency warns over new cheap building methods

A construction industry body has warned that alternative cost-cutting technologies being introduced in the country must meet laid down requirements before being adopted nationally.

The Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors of Kenya (BORAQS) Chairman Nathan Kureba said while the new technologies are welcome in the country, practitioners must make sure all processes meet set regulations that promote safety of buildings.

“We are aware of various new technologies being applied by various building firms and we shall closely monitor their practices to ensure the buildings they put up are up to standard,” said Mr Kureba.

Kenya has recently witnessed adoption of new building materials, which are said to significantly cut the cost of setting up residential and commercial structures.

The government has also embraced the new technologies. It recently approved a plan by a Chinese firm to put up 20,000 civil servants houses using cheaper materials with three other alternative technology firms currently undertaking various government projects.

The China-Africa Development Fund (CAD-Fund) venture with local housing firm Suraya Property Group and China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) in a deal signed in September last year, seeks to benefit police, civil servants, Kenya Defence Forces, parastatal employees and county government workers.

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Training manual

“Our task is to review the training manual for the tertiary institutions and universities, which will enable the board to set up examinations and issue practitioners with licences at their level thereby promoting professionalism in the field,” said Mr Kureba.

He spoke during the launch of BORAQS’ five-year strategic plan that seeks to raise the standards in the building industry by coming up with an all-inclusive regulation regime that recognises building technicians from tertiary institutions to graduates from local universities.

Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Aidah Munano, who presided over the launch of the strategic plan as well as two manuals for use by architects and quantity surveyors, said the real estate industry would benefit immensely from improved quality of work done.

“We are looking at the various legislation that regulate the building sector with a view to creating a one-stop shop regime for the sector,” she said.

Among the planned measures include bringing environmental, public health, water and physical planning under one roof, thereby enabling the formation of a one-stop shop arrangement for applicants seeking clearance to undertake building projects.

In the past, many applicants have suffered incessant delays as one has to seek clearance from various offices at national and county governments. This has been blamed for delays and increased costs.

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e-payment product

Also launch at the meeting was an e-payment product, National Bank-BORAQ VISA card, which will be used as an identification document for their members as well as a platform for payment of goods and services.

PS Munano said the e-card would soon become the sole payment platform for all construction services thereby helping root out unlicensed practitioners.

The board plans to review the training curriculum for various professionals in the building sector as well as take over registration and supervision of all training institutes in the country.

Mr Kureba said in the next five years, the board will engage sister bodies across East Africa with a view to signing pacts that promote best practices cross-borders.

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