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Shoddy Nairobi buildings at high earthquake risk

At least three out of four buildings in Nairobi would be seriously damaged in the event of a major earthquake, a new report on the state of construction in the city says.

The report by Questworks, a design and engineering firm, says contractors who steal cement and use less steel are to blame for most of the weaknesses.

Architects and engineers also add to the exposure by failing to verify the quality of the works.

Raul Figueroa, a PhD student at the Carnegie Mellon University, studied Nairobi’s buildings over a period of three years and compiled the report that is due to be published in an international scientific journal.

“The non-destructive test (NDT) results suggest that most concrete used in Nairobi lack required compressive strength,” says the study, which tested 254 samples from 24 construction sites for office buildings, churches and universities.

The study found that the quality of construction work is poor across Nairobi, but was more alarming in less affluent parts such as Buru Buru and Eastleigh.

“In Eastleigh and Buru Buru 100 er cent of the buildings were unsafe,” the report says.

Buildings were randomly chosen from a pool that engineers and architects had certified as being structurally fit.

Data was then collected and used to make computer models of the buildings that were then subjected to a simulated earthquake to show what would happen in the event of a tremor.

The results of the study showed that a major earthquake would cause serious destruction of between 1,000 and 2,000 buildings.

Most of the buildings would have to be demolished to pave the way for fresh construction.