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Nairobi’s buildings without lifts to be demolished

Thousands of high-rise buildings are to be demolished — because they do not have lifts.

Owners of all buildings over four storeys high will be told either to install a lift or bring down all floors above the fourth.

Building experts from the county government are currently checking all high-rises to see if they have flouted the building code.

The county’s planning chief Mr Tom Odongo said the county government had embarked on a process to identify highrise buildings which have flouted the building code.

“The governor has appointed a team looking into this and we will have a way forward in a fortnight,” he said.

Building code

He went on “We will give these developers a timeline to ensure that these buildings adhere to the building code either through demolishing the extra floors or installing lifts in them.” 

But he promised: “We will not demolish buildings without following the due process that would involve advice from professionals.” 

The county government, he said, had never approved buildings higher than four storeys without lifts and warned that they will do everything to ensure that all buildings adhere to health, safety and structural standards.

The exercise is likely to affect estates such as Pipeline, Umoja, Zimmerman, Donholm, Githurai 44 and 45, Kawangware, Kangemi, Satellite, Uthiru, Kinoo, Baba Dogo, Kahawa West, Kasarani, Ruaka, Huruma, Mathare North, Pangani, Eastleigh, Mlango Kubwa, Kayole, Rongai, Kitengela, Tena, Kariobangi, Dandora, Embakasi, Tassia, Fedha, Wangige among others. 

In these estates, some buildings have as many as nine floors.

“In areas like Pipeline and the larger Eastlands, we understand that the cost of installing a lift will be too expensive as compared to the cost of the investment. Here, we will advise these developers to bring down the extra floors without compromising on the structural strength,” Mr Odongo said.

Besides lacking lifts, many buildings flout the council code in other ways.

For example some have no construction site board showing approvals.

The code stipulates these boards have the name of the developer plus the names of the consultant, architect and quantity surveyor.

It also must show the planning approval numbers and other consultants like the engineers, planners and architects.

In 2011, then Local government minister Musalia Mudavadi while touring a collapsed building in Lang’ata ordered that buildings with four storeys or more but with no lifts be brought down.


The order was however never enforced.

A provisional survey from the Architectural Association of Kenya reveals that only six in every 10 new buildings in Nairobi meet approvals.

Former AAK chairman and the current National Construction Authority Chairman Steven Oundo says most residential buildings with more than four floors were put up by quacks because trained architects would follow the building code.

“We have always said that more than 50 per cent of the residential buildings within the city are not approved because of poor architectural designs. It is either the buildings are not approved by the County or the developers changed the approved designs to accommodate their own selfish interests,” he said.

Mr Ken Mwita, a quantity surveyor, said it cost around Sh7 million to install a lift in any building.

He said: “Most of these flats are built in phases. You find the developers leasing out the flats even before they are complete in order to raise funds to construct the upper floors.” 

This also violates the building code which requires that every residential flat be issued with a certificate of occupancy which shows the building is safe and structurally sound.