Ready mix concrete law rattles builders

Workers mix concrete at a construction site.
Workers mix concrete at a construction site. PHOTE/FILE
A proposed law that obligates Kenyan builders to use ready mix concrete has rattled developers who say it will lead to unhealthy business practices.

The proposed law requires builders of structures with more than three floors to use ready mix concrete supplied by cement makers – instead of conventional mix.

According to the Buildings Inspectorate secretary Moses Nyakiongora, the draft law seeks to stem the rising cases of building collapse across the country, a trend that has been attributed to the use of poorly mixed concrete.

“Cement makers have labs to test the required standards for concrete, which will help address quality issues,” Mr Nyakiongora said, adding that no on-site mixing would be condoned once the law takes effect.

Although the proposal has reportedly received support from key industry players, some Kenyans have lamented that it will not improve workmanship but it will instead give cement firms unfair advantage over other ready-mix suppliers.

READ: Builders to Use Ready Mix Concrete in Draft Kenya law

“The simplest way to deal with concrete quality is to require that every builder carries out concrete strength tests through licensed laboratories and submit (concrete cube tests) to the local authorities for approval,” Patrick Mungoo, a private developer, told the Construction Business Review.

“The on-site casting of concrete is done all over the world. What is the big deal in measuring sand, cement, ballast and water on site? Are these cement companies also manufacturing sand, ballast and water?” he added.

Wilson Gachanja, also a private developer, reckons that collapse of buildings is mainly caused by rogue developers who engage quacks who do not care about the quality of works.

“In my opinion, pre-mix concrete in lieu of insitu cast will never be a solution. Otherwise you will see many companies coming up in the name of supplying pre-mix concrete and we will therefore have created a bigger problem in a very simple way,” he said.

Established companies such as Bamburi Cement are expected to be the major beneficiaries of the proposed law. The company recently launched a mobile testing laboratory that will help builders to ascertain quality of concrete.