In Kenya, there is a current housing crisis due to the increasingly urbanized, rising population. Roughly 200,000 housing units are needed annually to keep up with the spiraling demands. The National Housing Corporation (NHC) is investing in a new technology which involves the use of pre-made expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam panels, galvanized steel wire mesh and pouring concrete. The NHC has pledged to facilitate the training of at least 50 contractors on the EPS construction technology as it has proven to be faster and cheaper than current methods. This new-house-construction technology will then be implemented during the construction of 30,000 new housing units.
According to the NHC, the EPS technology will reduce their build time by 50 percent, and building costs by almost 30 percent. However, there are very few contractors currently qualified to undertake construction projects using EPS construction technology. The NHC is asking that any contractors, both large and small, with a knowledge or interest in EPS building technology and who are currently registered with the National Construction Authority, put themselves forward for this training program. Acting managing director of the NHC, Henry Maina, is hoping that this will combat the shortage of contractors with the necessary skills and allow them to use EPS technology for most of the 30,000 homes they are expecting to roll out over the next three years.
Mr. Maina also noted that due to the shortage of skilled labor and increasing demand for houses built using EPS technology, contractors could hike up their prices and force customers to pay the excess. This, in essence, defeats the main purpose of using EPS technology, which is the cost savings.
In advance of this training project and the planned use of EPS in its future projects, the NHC has set up an EPS factory in Mlolongo, Machakos County.