Working with Masons -in Kenya

Masonry is a wide field that involve people  working  with building stones, cement,mortar  concrete,grout(for filling spaces between tiles),  and  steel.In terms  of the work they do, Masons constructs,maintains   and  repairs  surfaces  and structures.In our  discussion here   we are  going to sink our teeth in masonry work dealing with construction of   foundations  and the  walls of    structures  using  Bricks, building stones, concrete  blocks and  many  other  acceptable  building  materials. In local parlance,a Mason is often  referred to as a fundi or  Ufundi. Masons are trained and skilled people who   are hired  by  the contractors .

Bungalows in front and Flats in background

Training  involve pursuing apprenticeship  with an experienced Mason  where one starts as laborer or Mason assistant.Alternatively one could begin by   enrolling in a masonry  certificate program in a college.Many  middle  level  colleges in Kenya offer  courses  in Masonry (building & construction).The  entry  level  course is Masonry Artisan , followed  by  Masonry grade-3. Trainees  can still further  their  training to Masonry grade-2  and finally  Masonry  grade-1.A trainee who  possess grade 3 certificate  qualifies  to  join grade 2  and  those  with Grade 2 certificate qualify  to join  grade 1 training  course. And the fee charged is virtually friendly to the    pockets of many ordinary Kenyans. With  the biting  shortage  of  Masons  in Kenya, any trainee  who passes the examination is  guaranteed  to  get employment  easily.

Colleges offering Masonry courses in Kenya include:

  1. ,National Industrial Vocational  Training  center-Nairobi
  2. Rift valley Institute of  Science and  Technology(RVIST)-Nakuru
  3. Ramogi Institute of Technology-Kisumu
  4. Kirinyaga Technical  Institute-Kerugoya
  5. Mombasa Institute of  Technology-Mombasa
  6. Bushiangala Technical Training  Institute-Kakamega
  7. Rwika Institute  of  Technology-Embu
  8. Kabete Technical Training institute-Nairobi.
  9. Any many others, you name them.

Mason Skills:

Besides the technical  building and constructions   skills,  a  Mason must  be able  to accurately  evaluate the cost of his masonry  services  and  building materials.

Secondly  the mason should be able  to read  construction drawings  and  follow  structural  plans and  safety  regulation.

Last but not least  he   should understand the role of each player in a building and construction project.

Mason Contractors:

Each  contractor  works  with his preferred   Masons , from  one  project to  the next one. Masons  in turn rely on  unskilled  laborer  commonly  called  watu wa  mukono (Swahili  for un-skilled/semi-skilled hourly laborers) to  do the heavy  lifting  and digging  involved in construction work .In other words ,watu wa mukono to  the donkey work at  construction sites.Most Masons in Kenya  are  paid  daily  wage  just like the  hourly laborers.

Like in many parts of the world there is a shortage  of Masons in Kenya  . This  is because many  young people prefer white collar jobs,thinking that  these jobs  pay better than Masonry. But this is not entirely true because the compensation for their service is competitive and  often-times  Mason end up  as Mason Contractors .This is the kind of  this information need to reach many youths in this country. The good news  is that the  government  in collaboration with  Germany embassy in Nairobi has launched  training  and up-skilling program to arrest the shortage problem before it blow in our faces.

Other  organization  that  are working  to  create  sustainable  supply of  masons  in the county  are   National Construction Authority (NCA) training  initiative,Space & Style  limited ‘s Fundi  maalum program   and  REX  roofing  system ltd ‘s  training of  roofers.




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