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Chinese contractor's at the centre of changing skyline

28 July 2014, 22:45

Nairobi - The skyline of the country's capital city is changing fast and at the center of this transformation are Chinese contractors.

Several buildings that once graced the city's skyline as the tallest are losing the coveted spot as new ones being constructed by the Chinese take over.

Out are going Times Tower, Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC), Nyayo House, Anniversary Towers and I&M Bank Tower and in are coming Hazina Towers, UAP Towers and University of Nairobi Towers.

The Times Tower, which was constructed in 1997, stands at 38 floors. It remains the tallest building in the capital Nairobi, but this is not a position it will continue to hold in the next few years as a 40-floor building is under construction.

KICC, the iconic building in the heart of Nairobi's central business district stands at 32 floors, the second tallest currently.

The building, constructed in 1974, is as old as millions of Nairobi residents, who have visited it to look at its round structure.

But time for KICC and Times Tower, among others, to grace Nairobi's skyline is up. New glass-glittering buildings are coming up fast and it is the Chinese who are constructing them.

Top on the list is Hazina Towers in the heart of Nairobi's central business district. The building whose construction is underway will have 40 floors, and once completed in 2016, it will be the fourth tallest in Africa.

It will cost National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the owners, 82 million U.S. dollars, according to Kenya's Labor Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi. The project is being undertaken by construction firm China Jiangxi International.

The contractors note some of the architectural features the building will have are a vegetated roof terrace, an atrium, a helipad, a gallery where residents can sit and the city's skyline and a fitted glazing to reduce solar heat.

The design of the architectural masterpiece is inspired by the outline of a young Maasai warrior standing on one leg and leaning on a spear. The Maasai products is Kenya's number one tourism export commodity.

The image of a Maasai donned in a red-checked shuka (wrapper), a spear on one hand and wearing sandals made from tyres is one that is familiar with tourists who have visited Kenya or who wish to visit the East African country.

The building is expected to be completed in two year's time. A visit to the site of the building shows construction is ongoing in earnest.

One can see heavy construction machinery that includes cranes swinging from one part of the building to the other.

Less than 200 meters from Hazina Towers is University of Nairobi Towers, which is also under construction.

The 21-story building, as others coming up in Nairobi, is being undertaken by a Chinese contractor. China Wu Yi Co. Ltd is expected to complete the building in next two years.

"Since the ground breaking ceremony on May 17, 2013, construction work on the University of Nairobi Towers has progressed unstopped. The 21-story building is expected to transform the city's skyline with its futuristic look," says a recent brief from the university.

The 26-million-dollar towers will host administrative offices, lecture theatres and a helipad, and will be the tallest building in institutions of higher learning in Kenya.

"The Chinese have done well in road projects, at a lower cost. No one can thus doubt their work in the sector. It is the reason they are winning tenders for nearly all major construction projects in the country," said Antony Kuyo, a real estate consultant with Avent Properties.

Kuyo predicted that the Chinese will change Nairobi's skyline at least in the next two decades as relations between Kenya and China soar.

 - Xinhua


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