The Ministry of Kampala Capital City and Metropolitan Affairs has assured Parliament that it will close the condemned Lotis Towers, a 14-storey building on Mackinnon Road if a report by a team of independent engineers recommends so.
The building was constructed by Roko Construction and completed in 2019 and tenants were ordered to vacate in August following compression failure of a reinforced concrete column on the sixth floor of the building that threatened the structure integrity of the building.
Some of the affected tenants of the building include the Judicial Service Commission, Cairo Bank International, British American Tobacco, and the Democratic Governance Facility among other offices.
Eng. Jacob Byabakama, the acting director for engineering at KCCA informed parliament’s committee on physical infrastructure that a team of private engineers was studying the structure, especially the engineering works around the affected floor plus those above and below it.
“We expect the report to be ready in two weeks and the cost of the analysis by the private engineers will be met by the owner of the building,” Byabakama said.
Henry Maurice Kibalya, the MP for Bugabula South, said he had fears that KCCA could fail to prevail over the owner of the building, saying it was being developed by one of the powerful people in the country.
However, then state minister for KCCA, Kabuye Kyofatogabye said if the report findings reveal that the defects were exposing the building to structural integrity, it would be closed until adequate remedies were made.
After reports of the cracks in Lotis Towers were first reported, the National Building Review Board (NBRB) ordered the evacuation from the office block.
NBRB engineers who first assessed the building discovered that there was a compression failure of a reinforced column on the sixth floor. They also found several columns with similar signs of failed in the basement, something they said compromised the integrity of the entire building.
Byabakama told MPs that KCCA’s directorate of engineering and technical services demanded that the developer stop any works on the building and provide a methodology for rectification of the defects identified by the contracted structural engineer.
He said KCCA decided to carry out independent assessments after not being satisfied with the reports from the developer hence engaging the Engineers Registration Board (ERB) to nominate professional engineers to assess the entire building.
“On August 31, ERB wrote to KCCA nominating Prof. Jackson Mwakali and Eng. Dr. Ivan Lule to offer services of structural engineering and chemical engineering analysis respectively. A mutual consent for thr external professionals was reached between the developers and KCCA on September 15,” Byabakama noted.
He told the committee that after opening the gates to the private engineers, the developer then submitted a remedial action methodology in which it was proposed that carbon wrapping be carried out, but KCCA had not heeded that as it awaited further review by the professionals.
David Karubanga, MP for Kigorobya County, who is the committee chairperson said KCCA had mandate to deal with developers who were putting up all sorts of buildings in the city.
He said what KCCA had to do was to furnish the committee with information concerning the structural and enforcement challenges so that parliament could make recommendations to make sure that such were catered for by the government.
KCCA team informed the committee that the authority had 10 building supervisors out of the 15 positions available on the approved structure.