When a six storey building collapsed in Huruma district in Nairobi, Kenya on the 29th of April at the height of the country’s rainy season, a lot of people were devastated.
The following days saw near miraculous rescues and despite the joy at the few who were pulled out alive, the reality of at least 42 dead people that resulted from the tragedy cried out for action to be taken, and as such, demolition of unfit buildings seems like a pretty good place to start.
The rescue operations are still underway at the collapsed building which had priorly been declared unfit for human habitation. Soldiers, firefighters and volunteers along with trained dogs had been brought in with special equipment to detect breathing and movement, so it only makes sense that as the government expends all this resources for rescue, they also take action to prevent any further occurrence of this kind in the future.
A local MP referring to the already collapsed building said it was built less than 5m (15 feet) from a river, when it should have been at least 30m away. For this reason, the National Construction Authority had apparently marked the building as unfit for habitation, but that the local government had failed to follow up.
After the building collapsed, the two owners of the building were taken into custody but were later released on $5,000 (£3,450) bail Wednesday, pending formal charges.
It is a freely admissible fact that many of Nairobi’s four million people live in low-income areas or slums which possess numerous unfit buildings of this kind. Unscrupulous developers who cue in on the high demand for housing freely bypass building regulations, inadvertently jeopardizing human lives.
Eight buildings have already been deemed unfit for living and tagged for demolition in the district of Humura, as officials say that many of the houses are substandard or built on unsafe grounds.
Authorities have already begun the demolitions. The first of the unfit buildings demolished was a network of eight low-rise buildings with an estimated 600 residents. The people had been warned about a week ago to vacate the premises as the buildings scheduled for demolitions were marked with a red cross.
It is understandable that the hundreds of Kenyans now rendered homeless may not appreciate the move currently but we must remember that human life is not to be trifled with and so the authorities are taking the right steps.
One can only hope that developers who may get any bright ideas of undue gain by construction of buildings outside of regulations in the future will be deterred by the happenings of the past week.