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Construction of Uthiru collapsed building was suspended last year

The Nairobi City County government has confirmed that the five-storey building that collapsed in Uthiru was flagged and construction stopped last year.

But the developer of Epsom View Apartments, who is now being prosecuted, played a game of cat and mouse with county officials and completed the building without their knowledge.

Speaking to the Nairobi News, the county’s Chief Officer for Urban Development and Planning, Mr Patrick Analo, said the developer had made life difficult for the council’s inspectors.

He said preliminary investigations indicated that the building collapsed due to the failure of beams used to reinforce the columns.

“Investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of the collapse, but the preliminary investigation shows that there was a failure of columns and beams,” Mr Analo said.

While he admitted that the building was approved by the county during the defunct Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) administration, attempts to summon the developer failed.

“The building was approved during the NMS era, but the developer gave our enforcement officers a hard time. We flagged and suspended the site together with the National Building Authority, but the building was constructed”.

Mr Analo, who is also the County Secretary, says the county will report the contractor to the police for disobedience.

Cracks discovered

Meanwhile, some of the tenants said they had discovered cracks in the houses two days before the incident and reported the matter to the landlady.

As a result, the landlady, aware of the seriousness of the cracks, acted quickly and sent two people to carry out repairs.

“I saw the cracks and together with my colleague we told the landlady, who went ahead to call people to do repair work,” said one of the tenants.

On the Tuesday evening (May 7) before the incident was reported, one of the contractors carrying out repair work had just left the compound barely three hours before the incident.

Others had just returned from work and were preparing dinner when the incident occurred, forcing them to run for their lives.

“I heard people shouting outside and as I had just come in from work I was a bit confused. When I came out, people were leaving their houses and I just stepped out and that was it,” he said.

Others thanked God for saving the lives of the 34 occupants and that only a few escaped with minor injuries.

“What do you want us to talk about? Unless you want us to talk about God the Almighty saving lives, and we have seen him save lives, nothing else,” some tenants said as police led them to Kabete police station to record statements.

One of the tenants said although they were told to leave their homes, they have been stranded since the incident as they left everything behind.

“As you can see, the way I’m standing here is the way I left my house and I haven’t accessed anything so far.”

The County Chief Officer for Disaster Management and Coordination, Mr Bramwell Simiyu, said they received information about the incident and arrived at the scene at 8.30pm.

“We established that there were 34 residents in the ten units and were able to verify that they were all safe. We did a headcount of all the people who were staying at that particular court,” said Mr Simiyu.

The K9 unit was deployed to the site on the morning of Wednesday 8 May, where they used sniffer dogs to confirm that no one was trapped in the rubble.

Attempts to contact the owner of the collapsed building were unsuccessful as calls went unanswered.

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