Engineer Reveals Only 15 Per Cent of All Buildings Are Safe

An image of the building that collapsed in Kinoo on Saturday, March 5, 2022. (1).jpg
A collage of images of the construction building that collapsed and leaned on a residential apartment in Kinoo on Saturday, March 5, 2022.

Shammah Kiteme, the secretary of the Institution Engineers of Kenya (IEK), disclosed on Wednesday, April 12, that only 15 per cent of buildings in the country are safe.

Speaking during an interview on Citizen TV, Kiteme divulged that the National Building Inspectorate (NBI) conducted investigations recently and over 70 per cent of the buildings were found to be unsafe.

“There has been an effort by the national building inspectorate to look at the existing buildings. They carried out investigations on about 15,000 buildings in total.

Shammah Kiteme
Engineer Shammah Kiteme speaking during a conference in March 2023.
Shammah Kiteme

“And 15 per cent are safe and about eight per cent are fair, the rest are not safe. So to say the problem is huge is an understatement,” stated Kiteme. 

The civil structural engineer added that since the late 20th century, over sixty buildings have collapsed leading to the loss of lives and billions of shillings.

“From 1996 we have had over 60 buildings collapsing. Out of this, we lost about 200 people and the financial cost to the country is close to three billion,” revealed Kiteme.

Kiteme further warned Kenyans against using residential buildings for other purposes since it is a recipe for disaster.

“You do not only want to design the building and make sure it is designed by the right people, construction follows the right standard. There is also an aspect we call maintenance. 

“You need to maintain your building and put it to the right use. You do not need to construct a residential building and convert it to a church because the loading profiles are different. In a church, you are dancing and all that,” he advised.  

According to NBI which was established earlier this year under executive order No. 1, apart from the change of intended use of a building, the other main causes for the collapse of buildings include poor workmanship and lack of adherence to specifications.

Substandard construction materials, inadequate designs and the use of poor concrete mix were also cited as the factors contributing to the problem. 

“From the audit findings and the tests carried out on several collapsed buildings, the quality of concrete was found to be the major cause of the collapse of buildings. The concrete grade in some buildings was found to be as low as 6.0 N/mm2.

“It was also noted that there was no proper foundation in some buildings showing that the builders did not follow the specifications during the implementation of the project,” read part of the statement from NBI.

Seven-storey building collapses at Seasons area in Kasarani, Nairobi on Tuesday, November 15, 2022.
A screengrab of a collapsed seven-storey building at Seasons area in Kasarani, Nairobi on Tuesday, November 15, 2022.
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