Kisumu building owner, contractor to face manslaughter charges

The owner of the ill-fated two-storey building that collapsed in Mamboleo, Kisumu County on Monday, together with the contractor, will be charged in court on Friday.

The two, who were arrested on Monday, are likely to be charged with negligence and manslaughter, following the incident that claimed three lives.

At the same time, it has emerged that the collapsed building was inspected twice by the National Construction Authority (NCA) and activities at the site stopped in May over safety concerns.

But the owner is said to have defied the directive and continued with construction without approval.

“It is not the first time we see buildings approved in a certain manner but the owners go round and implement it differently. One of our major concerns was the manner in which the building was being inspected and managed,” said NCA Central Nyanza Regional Coordinator Amos Musau.

NCA accused developers of altering the construction designs after approval, which the agency blames for the recent spate of accidents being witnessed across the country.

Swampy area

NCA suspects the collapse of the Mamboleo building, which was being constructed in a swampy area, might have been as a result of the design.

“If you look at the section of the building which still stands, it is on solid ground, while the side that collapsed is in a swampy area. I feel the contractor never took the necessary precautions in the design to adapt to the area around it,” said Mr Musau.

He added that the developers trying to save on construction costs avoid engaging professionals, settling on “local fundis” who lack experience in construction.

The owner of the structure, Mr James Samo, who surrendered at Kondele Police Station, was released on Sh40,000 police cash bail while the contractor, Mr Gilbert Aono, parted with Sh30,000 to secure his freedom.

Police said they were still carrying out investigations before the two are arraigned to take plea.

The suspects did not spend the night in the cells and they were released after paying bail.

“Though not official, the duo is likely to be charged with negligence and manslaughter since it was an accident,” read the police report.

Three bodies

On Monday evening, three bodies of a man and two women were pulled out of the rubble.

Kisumu County Police Commander Kipkirui Ng’eno confirmed that the search and rescue team managed to recover the bodies of Mr Victor Odhiambo, 29, Mrs Florence Odhiambo, 25 and Mrs Beatrice Awuor Mumbe, 30.

The two Odhiambos are said to be a couple who were food vendors at the construction site.

The bodies were taken to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary awaiting post-mortem.

At least 60 people are said to have been working at the site daily.

It is not the first time a building has collapsed in that area.

On September 29 last year, six people working at a construction site narrowly escaped death after a four-storey building collapsed at Coptic next to Mamboleo flyover in Kisumu.

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