What is in the Building Surveyors Bill, 2017?
Recent times have seen the collapse of buildings without warning that cause devastation, great destruction and many lost lives. Examples of these incidents were in March 9th, 2016 where a four-storey building collapsed in Zimmerman, in April 2nd, 2015 a building behind Thika Road Mall collapsed and the April 29th, 2016 “Huruma Tragedy” that led to the loss of 52 lives. In light of these incidents, the Building Surveyors Bill comes to address these issues via ensuring high standards in the building surveyors industry.
The Bill proposes to form the building Surveyors Registration Board that will be responsible for regulating the activities and conduct of building surveyors. The Board will consist of a chairperson who shall be a public officer, another public officer, persons in service of a county government, persons nominated by the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya, a member of a recognized University and the Registrar. With the exception of the Registrar, all other Board members must be members of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya. The Registrar is an ex-officio member, the Chief Executive Officer and the secretary to the Board.
This Board has been granted power to establish committees which shall perform functions and duties that the Board may determine. It may co-opt any person from outside the Board with knowledge and expertise in specific areas to attend the deliberations of any of its committees. Moreover, all decisions made by the committees have to be ratified by the Board.
For one to apply to be registered, he/she must be a member of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (Building Surveyors Chapter) or a corporate member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and he/she is qualified to be/or is a member of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya. In 14(1), the Registrar also has the mandate to keep and maintain a Register of all registered building surveyors. To be registered as a building surveyor, one has to make an application for registration and prove to the Board that he/she is qualified. This provision is meant to ensure that all building surveyors have necessary qualifications and weed out quack surveyors. Thereafter, one will be issued with a certificate of registration. In addition, there will also be an annual practicing license for those who intend to practice in their professional capacity. This Register will be published in the Kenya Gazette at the beginning of each year and the list will contain the names, addresses and qualifications of the building surveyors appearing there.
Foreigners can also be registered as building surveyors for not more than a year if he/she proves that he/she intends to be in Kenya and engage in practice as a building surveyor for the specific work for which he/she has been engaged to do.
The Board has also been granted power to suspend registration if it finds a building surveyor guilty of professional misconduct or carrying out activities that are contrary to public interest. It also sets out the offence of practicing as a building surveyor without registration from the Board. One, if guilty, can be liable to a fine of Ksh.10, 000 or imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or both.
Furthermore, it provides in Clause 36(1) that practicing building surveyors must have a guarantee bond or a policy of insurance that has been entered into by an insurance company approved by the Board. This insurance cover will be used to compensate people suffering monetary loss from the professional negligence of the building surveyors. Contravention of this is an offence that, when found liable, one can be fined Ksh.20, 000 or be imprisoned for not more than 2 years or both. It also outlines dishonest practices and makes them an offence that is to a fine not more than Ksh.50, 000 or imprisonment for a term of 3 years or both.
In conclusion, this Bill, if passed, will raise standards in the construction industry and ensure that building surveyors, in their professional capacity, will perform due diligence. However, it seems that fees to be paid for each of the requirements are unregulated and the Bill should seek to discard some of them and clarify exactly what the amounts should be, lest they are employed as a money-making machine and a hindrance to registration of qualified building surveyors.