Chinese-built buildings, road projects give Kenya’s capital a major facelift

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The high-rise building at the intersection of Waiyaki Way and Chiromo lane in Kenya’s capital Nairobi stands out.

Not only because of its massive height, which dwarfs the rest in the neighborhood, but also the quality of the work being done.

Dubbed Avic Towers, the 45-floor building constructed by Chinese firm Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic) and is nearing completion, is an architectural marvel.

Once completed, it will claim its spot as the tallest building in the capital.

The mighty tower is one of the dozens of housing and roads projects being undertaken by the Chinese in Kenya, which have given Nairobi a major facelift.

The projects that straddle the different parts of the city have completely changed the capital’s skyline and transport network.

Many Kenyans who initially lived in Nairobi and then left years ago and returned recently can barely recognize the city.

“Nairobi roads have really been transformed that I can’t drive around as I used to,” Collins Mundere, a former government worker who retired in 2006, said in a recent interview.

He used to live in Komarock on the east of the capital and would drive daily to the government agency off the Thika superhighway, where he worked.

Then, driving was straightforward, all he needed to mind about were the various roundabouts.

Today, the roads on the east of Nairobi and the Thika superhighway have been expanded and one has to master the exits, and mind about overpasses and underpasses, thanks to Chinese constructors.

And so are the others across Nairobi that include the eastern, western and southern bypasses.

On the east of Nairobi, China Wu Yi Company refurbished the Outer Ring Road, turning it into a modern highway that has seen business flourish in the area.

The good infrastructure has attracted large businesses like banks and supermarkets which have flocked the area as small ones spring up, attracted by the good road network.

Currently, the major Chinese road project in Kenya is the Nairobi Expressway, a double-decker highway that runs from the south to the west of the capital.

“I can comfortably say that this road not only gives Nairobi a new face but it makes it an international city,” said Ernest Manuyo, a business lecturer at Pioneer Institute in Nairobi.

Manuyo noted that the road, which will serve Kenya’s main airport Jomo Kenyatta, will give visitors the first impression about the city.

It is expected that once visitors that include tourists arrive at the airport in Nairobi, they would use the expressway to reach the city center and other parts of the capital in minutes.

Kenyans have nicknamed it “upstairs road”, to mean a suspended highway, and many cannot wait to start using it.

Other buildings built by the Chinese that have helped transform Nairobi include Two Rivers, the largest shopping mall in East Africa and University of Nairobi Towers.

George Wachira, a director of Petroleum Focus Consultants, noted recently that Chinese projects have changed Nairobi and other parts of Kenya because the contractors are hardworking, the projects are delivered on time, on specification, and on cost.

He added that this has been the case since the construction of the Thika superhighway and the by-passes around Nairobi. Enditem

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