Nairobi News


Why wait to demolish? Do not approve plans

The county is warning it will bring down high-rise buildings which do not have lifts.

Owners of all buildings over four storeys are being asked to either install a lift or demolish all floors above the fourth.

Building experts are already on the ground, inspecting buildings to see if they have flouted the rules.

A decision on whether actually to go ahead and demolish such buildings or force their owners to put in the lifts will be made in two weeks’, according to the county’s planning chief Tom Odongo.

“We will give these developers a time line to ensure that these buildings adhere to the building code either through demolishing the extra floors or installing lifts in them,” Odongo said.

It is not the first time authorities have threatened to bring down such buildings.

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 should be demolished. 

The order however was never enforced, most likely due to deeply entrenched interests at City Hall.

The building code is very clear that no building should be approved if it has more than four storeys with no lift.

Yet the whole of Nairobi is full of such buildings- from Pipeline to 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; name them.

The question is, who approved such buildings?

According to National Construction Authority Chairman Steven Oundo, over half the residential buildings in Nairobi have not been approved.

Where they have, it is likely their owners changed the approved designs.

With the cost of installing a lift averaging Sh7 million, it is unlikely any developer will choose that option. Many would rather bring down the extra floors.

Whether the county government will carry out the threat remains to be seen. 

But going forward, the county must go out of its way to ensure all buildings meet safety standards before issuing approvals. 

That way, the safety of tenants will be guaranteed — while landlords will be saved the trouble and expense of having them demolished.