Nairobi has in the recent past been growing vertically on steel and glass as developers move to make the most from their land as prices escalate with the highest buildings dotting the most expensive locations.
However, this tall glass buildings hanging on steel come with the challenge of cleaning them, risk taking entrepreneurs are moving to cash in on this opportunity using various technologies including rope access solutions.
Also called façade cleaning, tall buildings present a very risky job of keeping them clean, where the cleaners of buildings as tall as 50 floors hang on a rope fastened with gears to enable them slide up and down.
New trainees chicken out
Thomas Otieno, one of the rope technicians who has been doing the job every day for the last four years says the job is scary and many new trainees chicken out.
George Muchira, the marketing director of Everdream Technologies which provides the services says the job needs highly trained people who are certified and have no health complications such as blood pressure since high altitudes come with low pressure and may cause bleeding. He says one has to be examined by a doctor before being trained for the job.
He adds that the number of tall glass buildings is increasing in Nairobi daily on increased investments by both local and foreign investors presenting a new opportunity for the business. Mr Muchira says they have employed several technicians to cater for the high demand as skyscrapers multiply across the Nairobi landscape.
Africa’s tallest building
He says the job is challenging but the risk of accidents is minimal if the workers are properly trained and equipped to deal with the challenges of height. It costs about Sh200,000 to train one technician excluding airfare to South Africa and Hotel accommodation.
The idea he says came from Dubai and South Africa where the number of tall structures is high and provides a lot more demand. Nairobi is also building Africa’s tallest building, the Pinnacle in Upper Hill, a sign that money may continue rushing to fill the vacuum created by decades of under investment in real estate during the reign of President Moi.
The improved investment and political climate coupled with the gateway of Africa status has seen Nairobi witness increased investment flows and real estate has been among the beneficiaries with office space availability rising dramatically in new frontiers of Westlands, Upper Hill and Riverside. These areas also have the highest land prices in Nairobi hence very tall buildings.
High end offices and hotels require that their premises remain very clean which translates to high demand for the service which has inturn opened new jobs and businesses.
He says it is not easy to find trained technicians who are not afraid of height adding that it takes years to train a technician. Thomas Otieno narrates that when he went for training for the first day, he found about 20 youngsters ready to be trained, but about 18 of them quit for fear of heights.