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January 17, 2019

Chinese firm in trouble over Chiromo skyscraper

AVIC Property along Chiromo lane in Nairobi on November 23.
Photo/Enos Teche.
AVIC Property along Chiromo lane in Nairobi on November 23. Photo/Enos Teche.

THE Consumer Federation of Kenya has threated to sue Chinese firm Avic International for constructing a tall complex on a ‘narrow’ lane in Westlands, Nairobi.

The Sh20 billion 43-floor mixed development project located along Chiromo Lane in Westlands has violated the approved heights as per existing Westlands zonal building controls, according to Cofek, and its proximity to State House poses a security threat due to the assault launch point provided by its extreme height.

Cofek has also raised questions over the speedy approvals for the construction of the complex by relevant government agencies, despite objection from the public.

The complex will partly be used to house manufacturing firm Avic’s Africa headquarters.

“We have learned with disbelief that government agencies and Nairobi City County have hurriedly given a nod to Kenya’s tallest building on the narrow Chiromo Lane, Westlands, Nairobi, without due process of the law and public interest thresholds,” Cofek secretary general Stephen Mutoro said in an Email to the Star.

According to the consumer lobby group, the ongoing construction of the complex is suspect because of its location and the speed at which the plans were approved by various government agencies.

“We are concerned at the shadowy and covert approval processes,” he said.

Avic had previously said it set up its headquarters in Westlands due to the area’s prime location and easy accessibility.

The complex occupies 7.5 acres and will have a floor space of 30,000 square metres.

It comprises twin towers which include a five-star hotel occupying 35 floors on one wing and a 25-storey apartment complex, which will be built next to the hotel.

Mutoro said Avic International Real Estate Kenya Ltd received Nairobi City County conditional approval on June 11, for plan No. CPF-AI-212 for the proposed building classified as a mixed development project for offices, residential, hotel and commercial.

“There is no evidence Avic International Real Estate Kenya Ltd has complied with more than 90 per cent of the requirements. Yet the construction is going on,” he said.

Nairobi County chief officer of Planning Rose Muema and the county department of communication had not responded to the Star’s request for comment on the matter by the time we went to press.

Avic had also not given any feedback on the matter despite several attempts by the Star to contact the company.

“The failure of the National Land Commission involvement is a mystery to public interest. The non-objection from the National Construction Authority raises even more critical questions,” Mutoro added.

He said the concerned agencies should impose a moratorium on the development of the complex immediately, revisit all the approval procedures, and invite public participation.

“Failure to heed our call within 14 days, we may move to court praying for a stop to the development until the due process of law and public interest thresholds are met and maintained,” he said.

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