It was the start of the weekend in Nairobi, Kenya, on Friday the 29th of April, 2016. Tragedy struck the capital city when a six-storey building collapsed due to a storm. The death toll has risen to 21 in an event that will raise questions about the civil engineering practices of Kenya and their safety.
According to News24, the Kenyan Red Cross said 60 people remained missing, meaning the death toll could be much higher. The police, however, spoke to media and said that 121 people had been rescued by the 30th of April.
After four days, a child was rescued from the rubble according to a tweet Kenya Red Cross sent out.
Then, on Monday, the owner of the collapsed building was arrested. The owner's name is Samuel Karanja Kamau and appears in court, today, the 3rd of May.
According to BBC News, the officials who approved the construction of the six-storey building in what is considered to be a low-income part of Nairobi would be fired effective immediately.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta handed down the order for the owner to be arrested. The Deputy Governor of Nairobi spoke to media, saying: "At least seventy percent of buildings are erected without proper certification especially in areas like this." The district in question is the Huruma district in Kenya's capital.
The people of Kenya are calling on the government to review the practices in civil engineering in the country so that these sorts of tragedies do not happen again.
Speaking to All Africa, a Kenyan architect, Peter Mungai said: "In many upcoming buildings, county by-laws are disregarded. You'll be shocked to find that permits are granted for questionable projects with the people mandated to monitor buildings processes rarely on site." The website also references an unconfirmed study that reportedly states that between 2006 and 2014, 17 buildings collapsed in Kenya.
The Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology, Steve Mackay, has called the collapse of the building 'horrific'. He said: "Civil engineers and structural engineers have a critical job to perform. The job is to design structures that are safe at all times, no matter what stressors happen." He also says that engineers only work to the limit of their knowledge. "Whenever you've got some doubts about the environment in which you're working, put in additional safety factors or go back to the labs and do further testing. If you're building a structure such as a bridge or a building, safety is paramount."