President of Architectural Association of Kenya Mugure Njendu. /Photo: AAK

Developers: How permit delays are hurting Kenya’s economy

The current delay in the issuance of construction permits has attracted criticism from Kenya’s engineers and architects who fault the e-construction permits system over unending downtime.

The Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) and Kenya Private Developers Association (KPDA) on Monday stated that the delay is affecting projects in the building and construction sector.

The system which allows engineers and architects to apply for permits online was developed jointly between the county government of Nairobi, IFC/World Bank and Architectural Association of Kenya in a bid to improve efficiency and accountability in processing operational permits.

The Nairobi County system started experiencing hitches and eventually collapsed fully when the contract between the devolved unit and Jambo-Pay elapsed. And now, industry stakeholders led by AAK President Arch. Mugure Njendu says there is an urgent need to establish a retrospective look at the inherent challenges affecting the acquisition of building permits and how they impact on the business climate in Nairobi City County as well as other major urban areas in Kenya.

“As a result, the Nairobi City County has not processed permits for the last two months, ostensibly due to a technical challenge. This has affected the practice of professionals in the built environment as they cannot proceed with their projects in construction,” a statement from the two bodies read on Monday.

He added that the hitch “has caused financial burden to developers who rely on bank financing for their construction projects and negatively affects the ease of doing business in Kenya.”

KPDA Director, Mr. Gikonyo Gitonga, noted that the construction industry needs a one-stop-shop for processing all construction permits. He lauded the invention of the E-Construction Permit process which simultaneously and significantly reduced the time to issue development permits.

According to Knight Frank Kenya Market Update report for the 1st half of 2019 indicates that the value of building plans approved in Nairobi County decreased to Ksh 48.54 billion in the first quarter of 2019, a 19.2% drop from Ksh 60.11 billion in a comparable period in 2018.

Knight Frank’s report has necessitated the calls to regularize the e-permit system.

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