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Five mistakes that could bring down newest highrise in Nairobi

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A building under construction in the Nairobi CBD area is facing demolition following a number of anomalies and defects reported by the National Buildings Inspectorate (NBI).

Construction of the building, located at the junction of Kimathi Street and Kenyatta Avenue, plot number LR.209/12003, where a branch of Nakumatt Supermarket was previously located, is said to be in breach of approved requirements by the Nairobi County Government (NCG) and the National Construction Authority (NCA).

The building comprises a commercial property with a plinth area of 855 sqm consisting of eight suspended reinforced concrete slabs of three basements, two mezzanine floors and three typical floors.

A perusal of approved drawings shows that approval by the local authorities was done in August 2015 after which construction work began. The project architect is Simiyu Nakitare while the Structural Engineer was Ebatech Consulting Engineers who later withdrew from the project.

In December 2016, the NCA and the NCG suspended the project due to non-compliance with approval requirements.

Speaking to journalists during an inspection of the building, the Chairman of Multi-Sectoral Committee on Unsafe Structures M.A Nyakiongora cited several non-compliance issues that could lead to demolition of the building if not addressed on time.

“There is no evidence of resident supervision team for a project of this scale and magnitude, the is no fire exit, there is poor quality concrete works as evidenced by presence of honeycombs and exposed steel reinforcement bars and unsupported structures such as staircases,” warned Mr Nyakiongora, who is also the Secretary to the NBI.

The team also cited other non-compliance issues such as poor quality of construction materials such as sand and ballast,deflecting beams due to under provision of steel reinforcement, poor quality workmanship, absence of staircase to the basement, non-existence of quality control set up and lack of supervision.

Related: House developers face tough construction rules

Following the revelation, the NBI wrote to the Architectural Association of Kenya and the Institution of Engineers of Kenya, which enforces professional ethics in the industry. The project Architect and Project Structural Engineer were, thereafter, suspended for professional misconduct.

A National Building Inspectorate (NBI) official inspects the building yesterday.

“The developer later engaged M/S Moses Kiliswa Consulting to review the earlier structural documentation and propose a methodology for remedial works in order for the proposed project to satisfy existing by-laws of the relevant authorities, before any vertical extension could be allowed. This review ran parallel with a review by an NBI team, in which both suggested an upgrade of the concrete quality and change of materials,” explained Nyakiongora.

Some of the improvements that will save the building from demolition as suggested by NBI include upgrade of concrete elements to grade 52.5, use jacketing and carbon wraps to enhance axial load capacity of columns, enhance column base thickness and also redesigning  slabs for the additional floors to be clay hollow pots so as to reduce the entire weight of the structure for safety enhancement.

NBI also recommended a demolishment and reconstruction of the ramp to the basement for a proper accessibility  an circulation in basement floors as well as application of Zinc rich primer  to the exposed reinforcements after pressure washing to remove dust and loose material.

“The building can be remedied with the aforementioned recommendations without demolishing it. However, the building plans will still need to be submitted to NCG for approval and filing of indemnity forms,” concluded Nyakiongora.

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FRANCIS MULI
FRANCIS MULIhttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Editor and writer, Francis Muli has a passion for human interest stories. He holds a BSc in Communication and Journalism from Moi University and has worked for various organisations including Kenya Television Service. Email:[email protected]
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