In developing countries, poor quality construction has led to spontaneous building collapse and, during earthquakes, to major disasters. While reliable building codes are widely used in design, builders in developing countries often fail to meet acceptable standards. Structural defects are frequently identified too late, often after catastrophic collapse.
In Kenya, more than eighty people have been killed, and over 290 injured, by collapsed buildings, since 2006. Researchers attribute most of the 230 thousand deaths in Haiti during the 2010 earthquake to the low quality of Haitian construction. But, sadly, Haiti is not an exception. In 2009 Kenyan officials estimated that 65% of Kenya’s buildings fail to meet code standards.
Dr. Raul Figueroa, CEO of Questworks, a real estate design build firm in Nairobi and faculty of Strathmore University. For his PhD dissertation at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA, Raul carried out a research on the structural integrity of buildings in Nairobi. Raul and our team conducted concrete tests on buildings within and around Nairobi’s CBD. We also interviewed experts with over 10 years of experience in the construction industry, ranging from architects, contractors, quantity surveyors and engineers.
The research team also modelled what would happen if an earthquake measuring 6 on the Richter scale were to hit Nairobi.
Some of the findings from this research;
The findings suggest that there is widespread fraud and that the current quality control practices are not effective in ensuring structural reliability of new and existing buildings alike, an issue that should be of great concern to policy makers and other stakeholders in the construction industry.
We have encountered various incidences of poor construction quality and ineffective quality control measures, which forced the company to invest in concrete testing equipment that we use in all the projects that we supervise. We believe in the mantra “trust but verify”.
We are proposing for the formation of a construction quality institute which would include key players among them the National Construction Authority, Nairobi City Council, The Kenya Property Developers Association, Hass Consult, and other stakeholders in the construction industry. This independent institute would
Questworks has now taken a small step in this process by getting equipment to allow for free testing of building quality.