Hazina Trade Center — NSSF tower that was ‘cut to size’ by ugly wrangles

Hazina Trade Center
Hazina Trade Center under construction | PHOTO COURTESY - Skyscraper City

The Hazina trade Center was poised to be East and Central Africa’s highest tower in terms of floor space. However, this was not to be – By Gerald Gekara.

The Ksh. 4.09Billion project aimed at putting up a 36-floor marvel in the city center, was mooted by the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

Luxuriously, the tower would feature a helipad and viewing gallery for Kenya’s high and mighty to catch a glimpse of the city under the sun.

However, seven years later, the tower stalled at 40% of its projected height.

According to media reports, barely two weeks after its ground-breaking ceremony in July 2013, the project was stopped.

Acourt injunction by China Jiangxi and China Wu Yi sought to challenge the award of the construction tender to Cementers Ltd.

The contractors won the court’s favor, forcing the NSFF to regroup. Moments after deliberation and due process, the pension fund later awarded the contract to China Jiangxi International.

Nakumatt: “Far too loud!”

Soon after, major construction works embarked on the 180m tower, with huge trucks and machinery milling around the building against time to beat the deadline.

With all the noise and debris from the site, Hazina Trade Center’s biggest tenant, Nakumatt moved to court to stop the construction until the termination of their lease agreement that expired in 2023.

After deliberations in the judiciary, the retailer finally got the leeway to halt the construction. However, China Jiangxi had already scaled up 15 floors.

Nakumatt was later forced out of the building after alleged multiple rent defaults.

Kidero: ‘Far too tall’

Moments after resuming construction, Nairobi Governor, then Evans Kidero directed NSSF to re-acquire an environmental assessment report from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).

The directive sparked harsh debate between NSSF and the County.

Kidero faulted the project for disregarding its surrounding businesses and motorists in Nairobi. However, the NSSF said the traffic management issues had been taken into consideration.

The Ministry of Public Works, stepped in favour of Kidero, asking the NSSF to reconsider its flooring, arguing that the existing structure beam could not support the massive tower.

Finally, the pension fund caved into the ministry’s demands, and to avert losses, NSSF instructed China Jiangxi to cap the construction at 15 floors.

‘Hazina Center scandal in the making’

While churning out an explanation to Parliament, NSSF gladly announced that the scaled-down floors reduced the project’s cost to Sh4 billion from a Sh6.7 billion budget.

“The total cost of the project was reduced from Sh6,715,218,188 to Sh4,095, 862, 434 following revision of the project scope to 15 floors,” Abdulswamad Nassir who chairs PIC said in the report.

However, there have been rumours of an alleged inflation of costs. In view of other tall structures constructed in the city, pundits say the Kenyan pensioner may have lost more than meets the eye.

For example, the glamourous Britam Tower is a 32 floors marvel that cost approximately Sh4.2 billion to complete.

The UAP Tower was financed through private equity at a total of 4 billion Kenyan shillings, yet it scales up 33 floors above the city skyline making it the tallest building in terms of usable floor space.

The tower that is currently undergoing glass fittings, cladding, and other final touches is scheduled to be available for occupation in early 2021.

Since its inception in 2011, several towers have come after the Hazina Trade Center, including the Parliament Tower that nears completion in 2020, KCB Tower, PwC Delta Towers, King’s Prism, 88 Nairobi and the iconic World Trade Center developments in Westlands.