How Nigerian contractor bagged key projects in Nairobi

Reynolds Construction Company might not ring a bell among many Kenyans. The company’s logo could however be familiar to many in Nairobi, especially if you have been stuck in traffic on one of the roads that the firm has been contracted to build. The logo initialises the company name (RCC) with an orange backdrop.

The company was in 2013 contracted to construct the Eastern Missing Link Roads, which are a number of roads in Industrial Area, parts of the Central Business District and Parklands, all totalling to 16 kilometres.

The project also involves the construction of footpaths for pedestrians and non-motorised traffic in parts of Nairobi’s Eastlands area. The Nigerian road contractor had never done any road construction work in Kenya despite being given the sizeable project.

The firm was given the job as part of conditions by the European Union, who have financed the construction of the roads through a grant of Sh3.4 billion. Total project cost if Sh4.56 billion, with the balance being paid by the Government.

Among the conditions given to the Government include that the contractor would have to be from a EU country, or an affiliate of a European company. According to RCC’s communication materials, the firm is a subsidiary of a Switzerland headquartered SBI International Holdings AG (SBI), which has interest in construction and other industries and has operations in different markets.

Japanese contractor

An official at the ministry of roads said the selection of the contractor for the project was beyond control of Kenyan Government as many of the terms were dictated by EU.

“The project is sponsored by EU and it follows that they would not to have a Chinese of Japanese contractor working on the project,” said the official.

John Cheboi, the head of corporate communications at Kenya Urban Roads Authority said while the contractor may have been fronted by EU and the fact that it is Nigerian firm, its capacity was not in question.

He however conceded that the company might be bogged down as the project area is heavily populated.

Among the areas where the contractor is building and refurbishing roads include Industrial Area, Gikomba Market, a link road from Accra Road to Ngara and Parklands.

“When you are building a road in an area with heavy human and vehicular traffic like Gikomba, any contractor would experience similar challenges. If that Nigerian was given uninhabited land, they would have finished the project by now,” said Cheboi.

“Most of the works are complete or nearing completion. We expect that the Eastern missing link roads will be completed by November. The major road where there has been little progress is in Gikomba. The amount of human traffic is a major challenge in the area and we are evaluating how the contractor will build the road with minimum interference to the people who do business in the area.”

Its capacity might however be stretched. In addition to the Eastern Missing Link Roads, Cheboi said the company has other projects in Nairobi that could be stretching. “The contractor has too many jobs,” he said.

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