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Sh10b building materials mart to be set up

By Graham Kajilwa | August 22nd 2016

A Chinese construction and engineering company will set up a Sh10 billion mega construction material supermarket in Athi River.

The project that will sit on 29.6 acres land in Athi River, Machakos County is expected to be complete by June 2017.

China Wu Yi says the proposed modern building industry base will serve as an industrial hub, manufacturing base, research centre, sales and demonstration display centre for new building technologies.

Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed said the new investment will revolutionise the construction sector.

“It will reduce both the cost and time of construction of buildings by 50 per cent and hence increase the number of low-cost houses constructed annually,” Mohamed said during the ground breaking ceremony in Athi River, approximately 30 kilometres south of Nairobi.

Mohamed said China Wu Yi will help to industrialise the building industry by introducing a new method of production.

The project, he said, was aligned to Kenya’s National Development blueprint, Vision 2030 that aims at transforming the country into a middle-income country.

The proposed project aims to set a new trend in the country’s construction sector, initially by reducing heavy importation of construction materials.

Consequently, a steel plant is to be set up in Mombasa through collaboration between China Wu Yi and the Kenyan government that will have an annual capacity of three million tonnes.

“On completion (of the material supermarket) in the next 12 months, we expect developers to acquire materials at 50 per cent cheaper from the current import cost,” explained Mohamed.

The construction industrialisation technology has been in existence for decades in Europe, America, Japan and Singapore.

“Now, the technology is getting mature, which is the reason why China is bringing it to Africa, to Kenya,” said China Wu Yi Chairman Qiu Liangxin.

According to China Wu Yi, the facility will also provide local people with 500 to 800 jobs annually.

Qiu noted the facility will produce 150,000 square metres of building material or 1,500 sets of buildings annually, which will meet the Chinese, European and Kenyan standards.

Liangxin said his company’s aim is to bring high-quality, low-cost, and environment-friendly housing products that will be revolutionary to the housing construction in Kenya and the region.

To date, China Wu Yi has completed more than 400,000 square meters of office and residential buildings (currently constructing University of Nairobi Towers), and is involved in the expansion of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

Mohamed said the plant was timely considering that building construction is currently the fastest growing industry in the country.

“We expect a transformation in the national construction service, development of low-cost housing ecosystem and developing content requirement to support local production,” said Mohamed.

China Wu Yi, which entered Kenyan market in 2002, is listed by the US engineering News Record as one of the top 250 international contractors. It is also listed as the top 100 Chinese enterprises with operations in Africa by China Africa Industrial Forum.

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