The national environmental regulator has rejected claims by Nairobi governor Evans Kidero that NSSF does not have its approval to construct the Hazina Trade Centre, which is set to be Nairobi’s tallest tower on completion.
The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) said in an interview it had renewed plans by NSSF to extend the eight-storey Hazina Trade Centre to 39 floors in June last year, having first given the authorisation in September 2011.
Approvals by the environmental authority remain valid for two years.
“NSSF had already applied for extension of validity of the licence and Nema granted the certificate in June 2013. There are procedures to justify fresh application for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) licence,” said the deputy director of compliance at the authority, Zephaniah Ouma.
Dr Kidero had on Thursday last week cast a shadow of uncertainty over the project when he said NSSF needed a new approval from Nema, addressing concerns of traffic management and public safety during construction.
Extension works on the building was commissioned 10 days ago by the secretary of labour Kambi Kazungu.
The building is located on Moktar Daddah road, in the central business district, and currently hosts Nakumatt Lifestyle.
“Validation of environmental impact assessment needs to be done. Yes, it was approved back in the 90’s then the re-approval was done in March, but the environmental impact assessment was not renewed. So we will be asking NSSF to do that,” said Dr Kidero in an interview with NTV.
NSSF has maintained that the project will go on as scheduled as it has all the necessary approvals, putting it on a collision course with City Hall.
“We have not received any communication from City Hall about any stoppage or any concern. We have the resubmitted approvals, the Nema reports and all the necessary approvals,” said NSSF managing trustee Tom Odongo in an interview.
Proposed extension works of Hazina Trading Centre will involve the construction of a 31-storey office tower to complement the current eight floors, four basement levels, ground floor, two Mezzanine and one podium.
At 39 floors, estimated to be at a total height of 180 metres, the new building will be the tallest in East and Central Africa on completion.
Nema said that in issuing the approval, it was satisfied with the adequacy of supporting infrastructure such as sewerage services parking spaces, traffic management plans, installation of water and energy saving fixtures and incorporation of emergency response plans.
NSSF is poised to spend Sh6.7 billion in the building to be constructed by China Jiangxi International Kenya.
The project was to begin in 2011 but was delayed by court cases after losers in the initial bid China Wu Yi and China Jiangxi challenged the selection of Westlands-based Cementers Limited to undertake the construction.
Mr Odongo said Cementers Limited did not participate in the second bidding called by the provident fund early this year. The contractors have said that retail outlet Nakumatt will remain open during the construction.
NSSF estimates it will take 18 months to build the extra 31 floors from which it expects to collect Sh100 million in lease income. The fund is also targeting to pre-sell the building floor by floor.
Construction of Hazina Trade Centre project started in 1997. NSSF was unable to complete the tower and opted to lease out the completed section to Nakumatt Holdings in 2003.
NSSF is also considering constructing a 62-storey building valued at Sh20 billion on its 1.993 acre plot on Kenyatta Avenue.