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Authority gives condemned city building new lease of life

The National Construction Authority has allowed the rehabilitation and construction of a building in the city centre that was condemned in November last year.

The building, at the junction of Kimathi Street and Kenyatta Avenue, is set on the site of former Nakumatt Downtown which was destroyed by a fire that saw 29 lives lost on January 28, 2009.

Addressing the Press at the site on Wednesday, National Buildings Inspectorate secretary Moses Nyakiongora said the building’s construction was stopped due to non-compliance but would now continue with conditions and under the supervision of a contractor and the relevant authorities.

Mr Nyakiongora said that the developer has engaged a new consultant after it emerged that there had been no consultant but a foreman.

In addition, there had been no records to show evidence of a resident supervision team fit for the scale and magnitude of the project.

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER

“The project architect was Simiyu Nakitare while the structural engineer was Ebatech Consulting Engineers who later withdrew from the project, but have since been suspended by the Architectural Association of Kenya and Institution of Engineers of Kenya for professional misconduct,” said the secretary.

During the audit, a number of anomalies were noted in the preliminary report. For instance, the site did not have a quality control plan to ensure that the building was being constructed in accordance with design standards.

The building did not have a fire exit or a staircase to access the basement. The concrete works was of poor quality and workmanship was poor.

Mr Nyakiongora said that if the construction had not been stopped, the building would have collapsed before reaching the 10th floor due to deflecting beams and poor quality of construction materials, including sand and ballast.

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

“The proposed development comprised a commercial property with a plinth area of 855m² consisting of eight suspended reinforced concrete slabs, over three basements, two mezzanine floors and three typical floors. Basically it was a 17-storey building but would have collapsed by the 10th floor,” he said.

Speaking at the same site, the consultant, Dr Moses Kiliswa, said that there will be partial demolition and strengthening of the building.

He said the ramp to the basement would be demolished and reconstructed for accessibility and circulation in the basement floors.

Dr Kiliswa added that they will upgrade the concrete elements and have additional slabs for the floors which will be redesigned to reduce the entire weight of the structure for safety enhancement.

National Disaster Management Unit  official Pius Masai urged developers to follow laid down guidelines and laws.

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