Construction of Nairobi’s tallest building faces new legal hurdle

Ongoing construction of the Hazina Tower in Nairobi.
Ongoing construction of the Hazina Tower in Nairobi. PHOTO/FILE
Construction of the 39-storey Hazina Trade Centre in Nairobi hit a big hurdle on Wednesday when Nakumatt Holdings, the anchor tenant of the existing building, obtained temporary orders stopping the project.

Nakumatt, which told the High Court it has a 20-year lease agreement with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) dating back 2003 to conduct its business from the ground, 1st and 2nd mezzanine floors of the building, wants the court to stop the Sh6.7 billion project until after 2023, when its lease expires.

The NSSF-owned Hazina Trade Centre is undergoing massive extension to add onto its current eight floors – a move that will see it unseating Nairobi’s 38-storey Times Tower as the tallest building in East Africa upon its completion in 2016.

READ: Nairobi skyline to soar higher with Kenya’s tallest tower

In its application, Nakumatt says the contractor – China Jiangxi International – is interfering with its business by dumping construction material waste, installing machinery, and causing “unprecedented nuisance” to the Nakumatt Lifesyle workers and shoppers.

The retailer further says the contractor has blocked entrances by scaffolding the premises, interfering with human and motor vehicle traffic. The petitioner is also claiming Sh1.6 billion compensation for lost business.

NSSF, however, in its defence argues that the agreement signed between itself and Nakumatt allowed for construction of extra floors with no liability to pay any compensation for losses resulting from the same.

The statutory workers’ retirement scheme told the court it will incur massive losses if the injunction obtained by Nakumatt is not lifted. The case continues next week.