Work on Sh7bn Nairobi tower stopped over safety concerns

Ongoing construction of the Hazina Tower in Nairobi.
Ongoing construction of the Hazina Tower in Nairobi. PHOTO/FILE

A cloud of uncertainty is hovering over the Hazina Trade Centre construction site in Nairobi – undermining the National Social Security Fund bid to build one of Kenya’s tallest buildings.

The Sh6.7 billion project, which involves construction of a 39-storey tower atop the eight-storey Hazina Trade Centre on Mokhtar Daddah and Monrovia streets, has been suspended by the NSSF after it emerged that it would be unsafe to move forward with the venture.

A recent report by the ministry of public works indicates that it would be unsafe to go beyond 25 floors since the existing structure beams do not have the capacity to support a building of that magnitude.

Based on that report, the NSSF has decided to apply the brakes on the project to seek a second opinion from the ministry.

“We have our full board meeting on October 24 where we will discuss the report from the ministry and decide the way forward,” NSSF chairman Gideon Ndambuki told the Public Investments Committee last week.

Construction of the 180-metre Hazina Trade Centre, whose design is inspired by the outline of a Maasai Moran standing with a crossed leg and leaning on his spear, is being undertaken by China Jiangxi International-Kenya.

The project has had its share of controversy since it was commissioned in July 2013. It was, for example, suspended barely two weeks after its groundbreaking after the tender was cancelled on allegations that the contract was twisted to lock out local firms in favour of Chinese companies.

Days after the project was stopped, Nairobi County governor Evans Kidero asked the developer to obtain a fresh environmental impact assessment report from Nema. Dr Kidero argued that the project would be a nightmare for business and motorists in Nairobi.

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Nakumatt, a tenant of the Hazina Trade Centre, was also opposed to the project. The retailer moved to court to stop the project until 2023 when its 20-year lease is scheduled to expire.

The firm said construction was interfering with its business by dumping construction material waste and installing heavy machinery and causing what it termed as “unprecedented nuisance” to the Nakumatt Lifestyle workers and shoppers.

Negotiations between the Nakumatt and the NSSF are ongoing and both parties are hoping to reach a “mutually agreeable position soon”.