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How Kenya is locking out local contractors from housing projects


Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya chairman Andrew Mandere (left), vice-chairman Peter Kariuki (centre) and Registrar Jennifer Musyimi during a press conference. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Chances are that built-environment professionals will be watching from the side as the multi-billion shilling low-cost housing scheme takes shape.

This is after they realised that their planned bids were disqualified at the preliminary stage on technical grounds and due to stringent conditions set out for the planned projects.

The ambitious Mavoko sub-county pilot where 800,000 units are to be set up is a classic example where local professionals have little or no say.

According to some of the conditions, a consultant or contractor must have handled multi-billion shilling projects, say three or five initiatives in the last 10 years, and a firm must  have Sh200 million annual revenues for the past three years earned from handling big ticket projects.

Others are that money received should be from development of mass housing, hospitals, government housing projects, security bond of Sh10 million and a contractor should have at least Sh500 million working capital. These, players says, are what are knocking out local firms.

In an interview with the Sunday Nation, the Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) and the Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya (IQSK) said allowing project financiers to dictate how they are implemented negates the principle of inclusivity and ‘patriotic’ collectivity.

“The project is owned by Kenya, will benefit Kenyans and will be paid for by Kenyans. If we are to own the projects, then as professionals, we need to be involved in seeking housing designs that celebrate  our cultures as well as meet our living norms,” said AAK President Emma  Miloyo. Ms Miloyo, an architect trading as design source associates for the past decade, said professional input must be locally sourced to enhance growth of various disciplines both in leaning institutions and within professional circles.

IQSK Chairman Andrew Mandere said Kenya must go for homegrown solutions that could be patented and exported instead of adopting foreign ideologies that deny Kenyan built-environment professionals an opportunity to utilise their skills in coming up with designs for low-cost housing units.

According to IQSK’s vice chairman Peter Kariuki; “Kenya has built-environment professionals that are hired by winning contractors to oversee execution of projects but the same cannot win a bid for such projects since they lack the financial muscle to fund them to completion then demand payment from the government.”

According to the Expression of Interest notice, bidding firms, both local and foreign, are encouraged to form consortia as their special purpose vehicles when bidding for the Mavoko contract. The notice then required bidders to present evidence of their past projects of a ‘similar’ nature they had implemented in the past.

Kariuki a quantity surveyor quips, “it was only after independence till the early 70s’ that such projects were executed by the government. But since then, none is there that any local professional or contractor can claim to have executed. On that ground alone, we are doomed”.

“One (contractor) is also required to attach proof of valid Professional Indemnity Insurance for at least Sh500 million as well as provide audited accounts for the past three years that show one earned over Sh200 million in revenue from their professional engagements.”

Bidders, it said should provide a list of recently completed design and build projects, including nature of work, value, location and testimonials from clients or consultants for at least three projects of a similar nature and complexity to the proposed works completed within the last 10 years.

Courtesy Daily Nation