Drones to inspect construction projects in Kenya

Unmanned aerial vehicles could soon be flying over construction sites in Kenya on government missions to check whether construction companies are following the law when doing their work.

This follows a spate of building collapses across the countries that the authorities are worried could result in tragedy if left unchecked.

An official from the National Construction of Authority (NCA) – a government entity that is mandated to ensure the integrity of building structures in the country – has told the media in Kenya that it will soon be deploying drones to construction sites countrywide to on inspection missions to ensure compliance with construction laws.

The drones will also be deployed to do site mapping to bolster the authority’s capacity to ensure efficiency in the construction sector.

Kenya has of late experienced a trail structural disaster in which buildings have collapsed, putting people’s lives in danger. Recently, several people were trapped after a house collapsed in Ruiru, Kiambu County, about sixteen kilometres to the north of Nairobi.

Kiambu also has the unwanted record of recording at least five cases of collapsed buildings in the last three months.

Regulation in the construction industry has been in disarray since the collapse of the first construction regulatory body, the National Construction Corporation, which was disbanded in 1986; leaving a gap in the sector that took almost fifteen years to fill again when the new NCA was promulgated around 2014.

Unfortunately, life has not been rosy too for the NCA, which has encountered its fair share of teething problems, not least the shortage of staff that has seen the organisation struggling to effectively deploy personnel to construction sites on monitoring and compliance missions.

Speaking at a meeting with the Editors Guild last week, the NCA said that the use of drones and other technologies will help address challenges experienced in the sector, including staff shortage.

“If there is malpractice by construction workers and contractors, there is an act put in place to take action on them,” said the NCA director Maurice Aketch.

He added that drone technology will also come in handy when deployed to record information about collapsed buildings, as the drones have powerful image capturing payloads that can help give a true picture of what really happened.

Among other tasks, the NCA is charged with the registration of constructors and projects, accreditation of workers, and research on proper construction practices.

If successful, the development would just be the latest on a growing list of applications for drone technology in the east African country. Just in the past week, Kenyan Airways’ subsidiary, Fahari Aviation, opened a drone testing facility in the capital, Nairobi, which entrepreneurs can use to test their drones in various industrial applications.

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