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Blockchain in the Construction Industry

The Construction Industry has always been a vital aspect of the infrastructural developments in any country. Our roads, skyscrapers, schools, hospitals, hotels, homes and many others have become a reality because of the Construction Engineers, Managers and other professionals in the industry who have the rare skill of turning visions demonstrated in architectural impressions into real buildings. Like other industries I have discussed above, the Construction Industry is vital for the economic growth of a nation and thus cannot be ignored. Perhaps this is the reason why there is always some construction work going on in a country even in times of economic declines. However, the industry still retains several traditional practices in such a globalized twentyfirst century world. The construction industry stakeholders should embrace technology to improve practices in the industry thus increase productivity and safety.

Technological innovations such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and Blockchain can revolutionize the way business is done in the construction industry. The industry is highly regulated for good reasons, but I believe adoption of new technologies will be vital in ensuring compliance with the regulations and policies. Construction engineers and managers have requirements they must follow in order to raise a building without contravening the law. Some of the requirements include use of environmentally and humanly friendly materials, standard fire door widths, approved clothing for construction workers, fire escape route signage, noise management, asbestos training, electrical safety measures and many others.

If you are a stakeholder in this industry you may be having all of them on your fingertips. Although many governments across the world have set standards and regulations for the industry, stories of buildings that collapse due to construction misfits and cause deaths of residents are still alarmingly on the rise. Government agencies and professional bodies assigned to ensure compliance with the rules and maintain sanity in the industry have either been compromised or have underperformed in their roles.

There is a profound issue of distrust that raises questions of in-adherence to the law and ethical concerns. Demolition activities in 2018, in Kenya, have raised questions that remain unanswered to date. For instance, for the demolished buildings on riparian land such as the Nakumatt UKAY, Taj Mall (Air Gate) and Southend Mall, where were the relevant authorities – the National Construction Authority (NCA), Nairobi City County (NCC) and the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) – during the construction of those buildings? Who was responsible for issuing permits for construction works to begin? Who issued the land title deeds for riparian lands? Who is to blame? There are several questions that can be asked about such activities, and they are proof that there is distrust among the construction stakeholders. This is where Blockchain comes in, the trust machine that can bridge the gap of trust in any industry.

In this section, I will discuss some of the use cases of Blockchain in construction industry, most of which can help the relevant authorities and stakeholders to ensure compliance and foster sanity in the construction industry in a sustainable way. This also addresses the issue of sub-standard buildings that have collapsed in the past and some that have been marked as unsafe for occupation. The answers to these issues revolve around procurement; whether procurement of the land title deeds in the case of riparian lands and procurement of contractors, engineers and building materials.

Betty Wanjiru

Betty’s Place, Nyeri

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