High demand for accommodation has encouraged buildings built with preference for speed over safety

As Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya, there are a lot of Kenyans who come to the town for access to higher paying jobs and better quality education. This influx of people has created the demand for affordable housing. Some unscrupulous business people have taken advantage of this housing crisis by Building apartments, or flats - this is not a bad thing to want to provide a housing solution to fellow countrymen. The part where it becomes bad is when the owners of said buildings do not follow the right processes and end up either hiring unqualified architects and contractors, or try to cut corners which end up with compromised integrity of the buildings they own.

Now, this short term way of thinking by either the building owners, contractors, architects or a combination of all has contributed to the abundant cases of buildings collapsing. This has happened a lot in recent years with a five-storey building in Kariobangi in 2016 actually getting caught on tape as it collapsed. Fortunately, no one was in the building at the time.

Monday's collapse of a seven-storey building in Embakasi

In Monday's case, residents reported that they had been seeing cracks in the building a week earlier and when they notified the owners via the caretaker all that happened was some cement was smoothed over the cracks. The cracks re-appeared on Monday which prompted residents to call the authorities who were able to evacuate over 128 residents using the National Disaster Management Unit.

"We are looking for almost five people, including a family of four. The husband is out but the wife and children are suspected to be inside the building," Pius Masai, deputy director of the National Disaster Management Unit, told Reuters at the site of the collapse.

Rescuers drawn from various government departments, including the youth service, dug through the rubble after a specialist unit from the military cut through walls and floors at the top

Nairobi, Kenya has seen similar tragedies in the past.

A total of 49 people died last year when another building collapsed during a heavy, nighttime downpour in a poor neighbourhood. The government ordered the demolition of many other buildings after that incident. Nairobi Governor Dr Evans Kidero at the site of the collapse urged the building owner to provide architectural plans of the building so as to be able to help better coordinate rescue efforts.

The governor also stated that between 30,000 - 40,000 buildings constructed without approval in Kenya are at risk of coming to a similar end.

Vulnerable residents

Governor Kidero said that building owners are known to stop demolition process by going to the courts, and now urged the judges to add to their consideration the potential loss of lives of vulnerable residents living in these unsafe buildings.

I believe that the buck should not just be stopped at the courts, but the building owners should consider the potential harm to human life. And if that doesn't get to them then the potential loss of investments in building the building quickly, versus following the right procedure and taking an active role in ensuring quality assurance in his/her projects thereby not only saving lives but also providing a service to fellow countrymen.

This would also mean making a profit in the long-term, as the building will last for a long time. I hope every missing person gets found and for all those personally affected my condolences to you and here's to a safer future.