The rate at which most a school across the country are being razed down by students and or otherwise burnt down by hired arsonists has raised fundamental questions as to what could be the motive behind this rising menace that has shocked the entire country and left the leadership in the education sector agape. cartel
Although the fires have targeted high cost buildings in these schools, targeting storey dormitories, it is emerging that a cartel of briefcase contractors could be behind the escalating school fires to create shortcuts to “easy and quick money” by being contracted by the counties after the county governments reneged on paying them for various works done. It is now coming to surface that these briefcase contractors are owed billions of shillings and they are faced difficulties in servicing loans they secured from banks to carry the works in the counties. Some of these contractors are known not be registered with the National Construction Authority and their work performance has at times been known to be shoddy.
To compound the worrying and escalating fires in schools that have continued unabated leaving the puzzle among teachers, parents and those in judge of the education sector, it is now coming to suffice that in order to access easy money as they are threatened with auctioneers after the county governments failed to pay them, this cartel of contractors have conspired to torch several school buildings, especially dormitories in order to tap quick funds from the same counties which have refused to pay them to cushion themselves from being auctioned.
It seems, though, that some of these contractors are colluding with some county officials who are fearing with their tenure at the county offices running out ahead of 2017 polls, and since they have not amassed a lot of money, this appears to be one way of them accumulating wealth so that they do not become a laughing stock upon retirement.
Whilst politics cannot be ruled out as in the case of Iterio Boys in Kisii where the principal of the school is the husband to the county women rep, many questions abound as why these frequent fires have not been reported in Nairobi county. NCA was constituted under Act No 41 of 211 and enacted in December the same year in a bid to regulate and bring sanity in the construction industry as the authority was placed under the ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
When it was established, the authority was expected to weed out quacks from its midst and put to an end to shoddy works and curb collapsing building accidents in the sector that had remained unregulated since 1986 when parliament disbanded the National Construction Corporation.
In November last year, NCA executive director, Daniel Manduku said the authority had registered 18,000 contractors as they had initially targeted to register 7,000 contractors countrywide to streamline and enforce order in the construction industry. This exercise started in 2013 and was seen to be undertaken in line with the authority’s laws and regulations to weed out rogue contractors.
…much seems not to have been achieved by the authority as incidents of collapsing houses causing death being reported…
However, within that period, much seems not to have been achieved by the authority as incidents of collapsing houses causing death being reported, the latest being in Westlands where three construction workers perished when a wall tumbled on them. It is for this reason and many more as we have said it before that NCA should get its act together and ensure that any construction being undertaken is thoroughly vetted and in tandem with the prescribed law.
We are not, therefore, afraid to state that there still exist some rogue, unregistered contractors across the country who have come up with quick ways of minting money after the county governments failed to pay some of them for either doing shoddy works or otherwise. NCA must investigate and crack the whip.