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September 26, 2018

NHC scouts for top manager to run struggling building materials factory

STATE-OWNED National Housing Corporation has started the recruitment process for a general manager to help its Expanded Polystyrene [EPS] panels’ factory break even.

NHC says the successful candidate will be responsible for the overall leadership of the struggling Mavoko-based plant. That will include making recommendations for long term strategies, business plans and annual budgets.

The parastatal, established in 1967, commissioned the Sh700 million prefabricated building materials’ factory with a capacity of 126, 720 panels a year in April 2013.

A feasibility study done prior to its establishment, estimated the panels would reduce the cost and time of construction by a third and half, respectively, compared with the brick-and-motor technology.

The Inspectorate of State Corporations, under the office of the Deputy President, in a damning report in September last year, however, cast doubt on the viability of the EPS plant.

“A visit to the factory revealed a lot of the expanded polystyrene products were lying in the go-down and outside in the compound in the open,” said the three-member audit team.

The group was led by Christopher Ombega, a senior assistant inspector-general of corporations.

“The factory’s profitability is based on the assumption of no significant change in the the competitive and regulatory position within the construction industry.”

NHC managing director Andrew Saisi said on October 5 most developers are skeptic of the EPS technology.

This has hurt plans for mass housing projects, he said, adding the factory had targeted to facilitate construction of about 30,000 new units annually. The challenge is compounded by inadequate skillsets, with most graduate and practising engineers not conversant with new building technologies.

“A lot of them [construction professionals] are still analogue and this is an area we are trying to improve,” he said during a seminar on affordable housing.

NHC, he said, will be partnering with the National Youth Service in educating construction craftsmen from the NYC vocational training centres on the EPS technology.

 

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