Universities the world over are known for their innovation and adopting new technologies; Turkana university college is no exception.
The varsity, a constituent college of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology is breaking new grounds by adopting an environment friendly alternative building technology known as expanded polystyrene technology (EPS).
The technology uses Styrofoam which is the materials used to package electronic goods to ensure they are not damaged.
The technology is also part of the government effort to achieve one of the Agenda four – providing affordable housing to Kenyans. Consequently the government has been conducting numerous seminars with home contractors and members of the public on the new technology.
Although few know about the technology, it has been in Kenya for close to 20 years.
Turkana varsity college principal Prof Thomas Akuja says the new technology which takes less time to complete, will enable the varsity to complete two dormitories that will accommodate 400 students. Akuja says the varsity is expecting to receive 356 new students who were selected by the KUPPS in September.
“The project is 45 percent complete and we hope to complete by June this year,” says Akuja.
The varsity has been allocated Sh. 100 million by the government for the two dormitories. The project is being implemented by Nasca Construction Company.
Each room will accommodate three students according to the site agent Edward Ohutso. Ohutso adds that the project will include special rooms for the handicapped, a gym, TV room and linen rooms.
The rooms are made of Styrofoam and galvanized reinforced mesh wires. Other parts like doors and windows are similar to those of other buildings and it is not easy to tell the difference once building is completed.
According to Moses Otuoma a specialist for the project who has ten years experience in building these types of structures, this technology requires less labour.
Otuoma said he used similar technology for the construction of Ruai police station, 256 units in Balozi estate, Utawala estate and two flats at Marurui estate among other projects.
“It does not require much skilled labour and takes less time to complete. Buildings using EPS technology last up to 90 years while those constructed from stone last up to 60 years. In addition to being sound proof, the EPS structures are eco-friendly because they are not biodegradable,” he adds.
In areas like Turkana which experience high temperatures which sometimes rise up to 40 degrees Celsius, the EPS technology comes in handy. It has a thermo insulation property meaning that the external temperatures do not affect the room temperatures making it comfortable for the inhabitants.
It is also fire proof because Styrofoam burns at 700 degrees.
The downside to this technology includes the fact that most companies that produce Styrofoam are based in Nairobi, meaning contractors have to ferry the material over long distances to their sites.
In addition, due to the bulkiness of the material, it requires more trucks to transport it to the sites although it is not heavy.
There is no doubt the EPS technology is revolutionizing the building and construction industry and it will definitely play a key role in realizing the government agenda of ensuring affordable housing for citizens.
By Peter Gitonga