BUILDING SHOOK

Experts inspect crack at Mega Plaza Mall

Residents fled on Saturday after building shook and crack formed on one of the floors.

In Summary
  • Locals said some of the building’s pillars have developed cracks and called it a disaster in waiting.
  • Taxi operators parking along Oginga Odinga Street sped off on Saturday, fearing the building might collapse.
REPORT:Mega Plaza Mall in Kisumu whose tenants on Saturday fled for safety following a crack on one of the floor.
REPORT:Mega Plaza Mall in Kisumu whose tenants on Saturday fled for safety following a crack on one of the floor.
Image: DANIEL OGENDO

A team of experts from the Kisumu government is inspecting Mega Plaza Mall after it developed a crack.

Terrified tenants and customers scampered for safety at 3pm on Saturday after the building shook and a crack formed on one of the floors.

Acting City Manager Abala Wanga said engineers started inspection on Sunday.

"We want the experts to evaluate whether the mall is safe and in good condition for use," he said.

The plaza comprises two towers; one has 16 floors and the other 17. It houses banks, insurance providers, health and beauty facilities. It has four distinct blocks and a foyer in the middle.

The building has additional parking on the first, second and third floors, for 400 cars. The facility provides quick access to stores, cafes, restaurants, coffee bars, and entertainment.

 
 

Locals said some of the building’s pillars have developed cracks and called it a disaster in waiting.

Taxi operators parking along Oginga Odinga Street sped off on Saturday, fearing the building might collapse.

“I saw people running out of the mall. I had to drive off from the parking for safety,” a taxi operator said.

Juma Wafula, a boda boda operator, said the people from the building were scared and shaken.

“We should not wait for a disaster to take action,” John Ouma, a resident, said.

A retailer who sought anonymity said, “We were forced to run for our dear lives following the crack witnessed on Saturday. It was a tremor.” 

The Star established there was some ongoing construction. On Sunday, the cracked floor was being repaired.

Josephine Anyango urged the National Construction Authority and city engineers to inspect the mall to avert disaster.

Kisumu city engineer Kevin Ajuul said they are questioning the management. “We are still interrogating some of the managers. We will give updates when we are done,” he said on the phone on Monday.

Mall management, however, downplayed the incident. Utility manager Shaban Mohammed attributed the cracks to expansion joints.

"It is true there are cracks on the tiles. It is normal, due to weathering," he said.

"Our engineers have inspected the building and there should be no cause of alarm." 

The plaza was expanded in 2016 to include two high-rise towers, offices, apartments, retail space and entertainment joints.

Being at the heart of the city, it offers a wide variety of services, mainly retail, information and communication.

"The aim is to make Kisumu 'Kenya’s Dubai' to change the face of the CBD. This will keep up with the growing demand for retail," then project manager Hatibu Gonna said.

Edited by Kiilu Damaris