Mugoya Woes: Mugoya wins tender to bring down building (January 2006)

Published on January 30, 2006, (Standard)

By Evelyn Kwamboka and Ochieng’ Oreyo

A Sh32.7 million tender has been awarded to Mugoya Construction Company to pull down a section of the collapsed building that killed 14 people last week.

The head of Rescue Operations, Maj-Gen Paul Opiyo, told The Standard that the contractor was the lowest bidder in a tender to demolish the standing section of the building.

"The construction company stated that it would pull down the building in 45 days," he said.

Speaking on the telephone, Opiyo said the site was still cordoned off and work was to start soon.

However, a disaster management committee had asked the contractor to reduce the days to allow neighbouring business operators resume business early.

"Some contractors had indicated 90 days, which was rejected," he said.

He said some closed roads had been opened, except those close to the site. He promised to leave the site only after ensuring that no body was remaining in the rubble.

The building is to be demolished to give room to workers at the site to retrieve bodies still trapped under.

Threat to sue

The owner of the building, Jimmy Kihonge, last week threatened to move to court before the Government demolishes the remaining part of the structure.

Kihonge wondered why the Government was in a hurry to demolish part of the building, left standing. He said he had invested more than Sh70 million in the building.

The building collapsed last Monday afternoon killing 14 people and injuring more than 100.

The building, originally planned to go four storeys up, had reached the sixth floor when it collapsed.

Elsewhere, six Nairobi City Council officials spent the third night in police custody over the collapsed building. The officials remained in custody as the search for their colleague, an engineer, intensified.

Central Police Station CID boss, Danson Diru, said his officers had visited various places, including the engineer’s home.

"We have to get him as fast as possible so that he does not interfere with the ongoing investigations into the collapsed building," he said.

Owner denied bail

Also being sought is the owner of the building, Jimmy Kihonge, whose application to bar the officers from arresting him was rejected by a Nairobi court on Friday.

Justice Milton Makhandia denied the businessman bail, saying he could not bar officers from arresting and investigating him.

Kihonge, through his lawyers, had gone to court seeking bail to block police from arresting him and if arrested, to be released on bond.

Local Government minister, Musikari Kombo, suspended seven officers in charge of building and construction at the council to pave way for investigations.

The officers included an engineer, two development officers and a planning officer.

Sources at City Hall named some of the officers in custody as PK Mutugi, FM Ndereba and one Ojwang’.

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