14 May 2008

Uganda: Hilton Hotel Kampala to Be Ready Next Year

Kampala — Hilton Hotel Kampala, potentially Uganda's first "true" 5-star hotel and an architectural landmark is now set to be complete by September 2009, according to the project's developers, AYA Group.

The 23-floor edifice is being constructed on the former premises of Uganda Television at Nakasero, a prime Kampala suburb. "We are now progressing at full speed and we'll maintain this tempo till finish time.

This hotel will be open for business by September next year," AYA Group chairman, Mr Mohammed Hamid told journalists after a tour of project on May 10th.

Work picked up again late last year after an initial setback attributed to a fleeting cash squeeze. Since then construction has kept up pace and there were tell tale signs at the site that the project could have effectively overcome its financial constraints.

AYA for instance has procured and delivered a hefty 37,000 tonnes of steel at the site--to cover 75% of the work--and imported a couple of other critical high-tech equipment.

Because it's the first building of such a scale in Uganda, there was no crane in the country to cope with the works, forcing AYA to import one, capable of rising up 120 metres high and carrying up to 10 tonnes.

"There was no equipment anywhere in Uganda that could handle a 23-floor building. We have had to import everything and obviously that has an implication of costs and speed of the project implementation.

Now everything is there and we're racing," said Mohammed. AYA has also imported a batching plant (concrete mixer) that produces 50 Cubic metres of concrete per hour and the plant is connected to a pipe that can deliver that concrete up to 320 metres above ground.

Expected to cost $90 million upon completion, Mr Mohammed said nearly half of that has already been spent. The relentless rise of the cost of raw materials (mostly cement and steel), he said, were serious obstacles but that they have now overcome much of that.

The project was designed by John Seifert Architects of London and will have 32,000 square metres of floor Area, 272 rooms and some of most majestic fixtures and recreational facilities in the hotel industry. Uganda will be the second country to have a Hilton brand in East and Central Africa after Kenya.

Project Manager, Mr Andries Louw said they had completed the most difficult and arduous work which involves the base of the building, up to the first floor.

That phase takes up a great deal of effort in erecting the building's complex and numerous supporting structures.

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