The construction regulator has cited delays in passing reviews of a law giving it powers to prosecute as a hindrance to the crackdown on rogue contractors and fraudsters in the sector.
The National Construction Authority (NCA) Amendment Bill, which provides for mechanisms for dealing with culprits, has stalled at the legislative stage for close to two years.
This means that the regulator cannot take legal action against unregistered contractors who undertake projects, fraudsters masquerading as its officers, holders of fake certificates and those who fail to comply with suspension notices.
“It leaves us in a precarious situation where we have the mandate to ensure there is sanity in the industry but the penalty side is not there,” NCA acting executive director Maurice Akech said.
The authority was established in 2011 with the mandate of taming rogue contractors who have been blamed for the fatal collapse of rental and commercial buildings.
The NCA Act, as it stands, provides for investigation officers but does not have the penal consequences for those who breach the law. The amendments seek to expand the regulator’s functions to include registering suppliers of construction materials, vetting buildings and structures to determine suitability for inhabition and demolition.
Under the changes, the NCA also wants to be given powers to arrest and prosecute imposters masquerading as its officers marking buildings for demolition and extorting wananchi.
The NCA directly regulates the professional conduct of contractors and construction workers, while consultants such as engineers, architects and quantity surveyors are policed by their respective professional bodies.
The NCA Act’s lack of penal/enforcement provisions means that the regulator has had to borrow from other penal codes, something that has required it to make a lot of references.
“We are using what is there since we still have to execute our mandate but it means the teeth is not as sharp as we would have liked to have it,” said Mr Akech.