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Questions arise as Kenya’s long-awaited skyscraper turns into ruins

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One time I had a doctor’s appointment in town and I thought I could get out of it by pretending I had miraculously healed. I had sprained my ankle during an extreme game of tag. I was eight-years-old then and needles were my worst nightmare. So instead of limping, I took in a huge lunge of air and feigned proper strides. I even did little quirky dance moves (the famous twisty); my mother didn’t buy any of it. Until today I am convinced that she has super human abilities, she must have been a marvel superhero in another life.

On the day of the doctor’s appointment I broke into hives, invisible ones that I kept scratching all the way to town. I kept having lucid dreams of a large cattle needle being inserted in one of my buttocks. When we finally reached the building, I began to loudly snivel hoping that strangers would take pity on me and well adopt me or at least have my mother arrested. It had worked for kids on TV so why not me? The sniffling didn’t work and neither did my high-pitched screams. In fact, one particularly mean stranger told my mother to smack my mouth shut. I was completely quiet after that. A dinging sound emanated from a lift and I watched with childlike awe as the doors opened to reveal a bunch of people. I had never seen one before let alone been in one. When my mother gently pushed me inside the lift, I was beyond excited. Then the doors closed and the mean stranger pressed a large green button. I forgot all about cattle needles as my thrill morphed into paralyzing fear. I had a new nightmare to worry about, tall buildings with lifts.

The Pinnacle Towers was a cause of excitement for many Kenyans with it being predicted to be the tallest building in Africa and the third tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. The year 2023 was the set estimated time for the full completion of the skyscraper, its commissioning was to be done this year. Now, the building is sitting in ruins, a grotesque comparison of the projected outlook that was envisioned three years ago. What was to be a sight to behold is now a scarring enormous hole. A hole that residents of Upper Hill are calling a safety hazard.

The “scarring enormous hole”.

In 2016, a land (2.5 acres) in Upper Hill was secured for this construction project. The sh20 billion building had its groundbreaking ceremony in 2017 on May 23rd which the President attended. The dream of erecting the tallest building in Africa within Nairobi was conjured up by Jabavu Village a real estate arm of Hass Petroleum (an East African petroleum products distributor) and the White Lotus Group, a Dubai-based investment firm. The sh20 billion was split amidst the developers who jointly contributed US$50 million and Kenyan banks (and the Afreximbank) which contributed the remaining amount. Everything was set with the China State Construction Engineering Corporation as the main contractor and Archgroup Consultants as the architectural group. Within three to six years, Kenya would have been the home to the tallest building in Africa, with so many lifts. Now, the excavated ground that was to house a four- level basement is filled with water and cringe worthy algae.

So, what happened to this dream? Why was it snuffed out like a lit candle in an oxygen deprived room? Before we get to that, let’s see how the developers had envisioned this skyscraper.

The building specs

The Pinnacle was to reach an elevation of 1,710 meters which is equivalent to 5,610ft. The development was to consist of two adjacent towers. The shorter tower was to house the Upper Hill Hilton Hotel with its 46 floors and 257 rooms. It was to be the third Hilton franchise in Nairobi. Picture sipping a cold glass of freshly squeezed juice while seated on an ornate table perched near a glass window on the 45th floor. The view would have been breathtaking. To some the thought is heavenly, to some the thought is frightening. I am in the latter lot.

The taller tower was to possess 70 floors. The vision for this extremely tall building was for it to house a plethora of renting space for varied businesses. There was to be a section for commercial offices, retail shops, residential apartments, conference facilities, a gymnasium, a luxury spa and an infinity pool. Who wouldn’t want to live in a place with all this at their disposal? The best part of this vision is that it entailed a roof-top helipad. Yes, anyone with a chopper could land there straight from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. How awesome could that have been?

The botched dream broke many hearts. Let’s see why we currently do not have a tall tower with a roof-top helipad.

The reason why the construction stopped

Owners of the land situated next to The Pinnacle construction site went to court and filed a case against The Pinnacle for trespassing. The people who filed this case were James Mugoya, a Ugandan tycoon and a trust formed by Sheikh Zayeed Nayan, a former United Arab Emirates leader. These two powerful figures appeared in court as early as 2016 posing as a bridle to The Pinnacle construction.

The court thereafter issued an order in January 2017 preventing the constructors from using the neighboring plot. The constructors ignored the court order and went about their business. In December 2018, the High Court declared that the White Lotus had acted in contempt of court. This is where the real trouble began. The court battle was hard on The Pinnacle visionaries.

The developers had to abandon their utilization of the adjacent land which they had been using for storage of construction equipment.

Since then, construction began to slow down and now it is at a complete standstill. Just a big hole in the ground.

We cannot help but wonder if that is truly the end of the dream. It would have been nice to dine at the ground floor with the knowledge of seventy floors existing above me.

Do you think there is hope for its continual?









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