Nairobi Building Collapse, House Owner Charged With Manslaughter

It will not be difficult for many Kenyans to remember the tragedy of 29 April when at the height of the country’s rainy season, a building came crashing down on its residents.

The Nairobi building collapse is indelible in memory both for the lives that were lost that day and the miraculous recoveries that occurred as rescue attempts were kicked into high gear.

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The owner of the collapsed building, Samuel Karanja Kamau has been charged with 52 counts of manslaughter. A total of 52 people died when the six-storey building came careening down upon them in heavy rain in the city’s poor Huruma district.

Samuel Karanja Kamau has denied the charges  at Nairobi’s High Court and is due to appear at a bail hearing on Wednesday.

Along with Mr Kamau, three officials from Nairobi City County and the National Construction Authority (NCA) were taken into police custody after the Nairobi building collapse, but it has not been made clear if they have also been charged.

Officials had declared the building unfit for habitation and the case is stacked against Mr Kamau because despite that, the government said 100 rooms had been rented out. Local MP said it had been built less than 5m (15 feet) from a river, when it should have been at least 30m away.

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The National Construction Authority had also marked the building as unfit for habitation, but the local government had failed to follow up. It is common in Nairobi where housing is in really high demand for developers to unscrupulously bypass regulations, inadvertently putting the lives of a great number of people – nearing four million who live in low-income areas or slums, in danger.

This charges brought against Mr Kamau for the Nairobi building collapse will no doubt serve as a deterrent for these unscrupulous developers and shake the monitoring bodies and local governments to do their jobs properly, or at least that is what we hope.