The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has abandoned its plan to raise Hazina Trade Centre to 39 floors, dashing Kenya’s ambition of hosting Africa’s third tallest building after South Africa’s Carlton Centre and Egypt’s Cairo Tower.
The NSSF halted construction works at the building to seek a second opinion from the Public Works ministry.
Last week, NSSF chairman Gideon Ndambuki told the Public Investments Committee (PIC) that the ministry’s report had indicated that going beyond 25 floors would be catastrophic as structure’s beams could not support a skyscraper of such magnitude.
“We have our full board meeting on October 24 where we will discuss the report from the ministry and decide the way forward,” he told the Eldas MP Adan Keynan-chaired committee.
The ideal structure for NSSF is set to be dwarfed by a number of Nairobi’s skyscrappers, among them, the 140-metre Times Tower, the 163m-high UAP Old Mutual Tower and 195 metre-tall Britam Tower.
The NSSF hired Chinese construction company China Jiangxi to finish building the 39-storey building, which already had eight floors including the four that house Nakumatt.
The supermarket chain had earlier complained that the works were a disruption to its business and moved to court two years ago seeking to block the building of additional floors above its Nakumatt Lifestyle branch.
In June, the two sides entered negotiations in bid to re-start the stalled construction.
Mr Ndambuki told the PIC that the contractor would not be receiving payments until the matter is solved.
DOGGED WITH CONTROVERSY
The plan to elevate Hazina Trade Centre to be Nairobi’s tallest building has been dogged with controversy from the onset.
Former NSSF managing trustee Alex Kazongo is said to have been involved in the controversial award of the Sh6.5 billion project to China Jiangxi.
In 2011, he wrote directly to Abdulmalik Associates and Turner Associates appointing them as structural/civil engineers and quantity surveyors after the project had stalled for 12 years. The firms had handled the initial project.
Mr Kazongo maintains he was implementing directive of the management and board of trustees who had approved the project.
“We will need you to furnish this committee with a comprehensive report on the building from the procurement of materials and services to the construction stage,” said Mr Keynan.
The MPs also asked for a list of works undertaken by a previous contractor.
Kitui West MP Francis Nyenze said the committee was dumbfounded when it visited the site and found cracks on the walls of the building.
“I think all members of the tender committee should be behind bars because of the massive loss of taxpayers’ money,” he said.
Mr Ndambuki is expected to appear before the committee at the end of the month to update members on decisions reached by the board.