Mt Kitengela is a man-made phenomenon of a mountain and remains one of the new, attractive and uniquely innovative efforts of the focused and dynamic Optiven, formerly the Optiven Group in Kitengela, Kajiado County, and located South of Nairobi City.
Towering about 50 metres off the ground at the new GMC Place hospitality facility developed by Optiven, the red-soil mountain in an area where the ground is predominantly made of clay soil, provides scenic and amazing views of the wide expanse of land in Kajiado County. Evidently, Mt Kitengela illustrates a journey to new heights in landscaping in the country.
Project befitting tourists
“We developed the GMC Place facility to cater for the whole family after realizing that most hospitality facilities in this area only catered for men, rather fathers, mostly providing for roast and related meat meals and drinks especially alcoholic ones,” explains Mr Charles Muraguri, a Projects Director at Optiven.
“Essentially, the GMC Place provides lots of play fields and gadgets for children of all ages including bouncing castles and go-carts among many others. There are two heated swimming pools adjacent to each other. One for adults and the other for children,”Mr Muraguri adds.
Also adjacent to the pools and opposite each other are two well protected (from the pools) dining areas dubbed the Deck.
Optiven has invested in a well-furnished kitchen, several spacious and privacy-enhanced outdoor dining areas with makuti roofing, a meeting hall with balcony facilities, washroom areas, swimming pool, cleaning & shower & changing facilities.
There’s also an indoor eating and feeding space in its unique set facility. The over 8 acre facility also provides about half acre of well grassed field which can be turned into an events venue.
Optiven is also developing a goats & sheep slaughter areas/pens where each family shall be expected to select and buy the animals from the facility and later slaughter, roast and cook the animals themselves, thereby enhancing joint family activities and family love, bond and togetherness.
According to Mr. Muraguri, Optiven is also developing a huge meeting and multi-purpose hall near the Mountain. Lodging facilities shall also be developed within the area in the near future. Currently, Optiven has provided some semi-permanent accommodation facilities for some of its essential services employees. The facility is well guarded in a high stone perimeter fence.
George Wachiuri, Optiven CEO, explains that the facility extensively uses solar energy for 90 per cent of its lighting needs and recycles water using over 90 per cent of recycled water for greening of its flowers beds, the field, the mountain and all of its extensive green areas. The GMC Place also provides a for-pay vehicles-cleaning facility for its clients, showing commitment to a holistic approach to services provision.
‘Constructing’ Mt Kitengela
Mr. Muraguri affirms that Optiven needed to have an attractive and interesting feature at its facility and hence the deep thought that led to development of the mountain. Optiven also needed to secure its main facility from some adjacent ugly and distracting structures in the neighborhood, according to the management. The mountain occupies about an eighth of a 100M by 50 M plot.
“We had to prepare the clay soil base of the mountain adequately well to receive the red soil and rocks,” recalls Mr. Muraguri. “The company used most of the red soil and rocks secured from excavations for its structures to make and solidify the mountain base.”
Mt Kitengela ‘building’/’construction’ journey lasted 2 years with the company having to outsource red soil totaling to about 800, 14 tonnes lorries which translates to roughly 11200 tonnes of red soil.
The building process was evidently a tough job, but was eased by landscapers. Climbing the mountain, one has to use horizontal routes marked by concrete stones and slabs well-spaced to accommodate each stop. The horizontal routes are then diverted diagonally in areas with gradual and low climbs also marked with concrete stones and slabs leading to other horizontal routes until one reaches the peak.
The mountain is ‘extremely’ green with well watered grass and various genres of tree including the famous ‘bluegum’ and the bamboo trees among many others that dot the mountain at well calculated spaces. Watering is done through sprinklers with recycled water pumped to reach the top and which then evidently flow downwards by gravity.
Huge rocks are also made to protrude at various places. The landscapers evidently did a wonderful job providing almost flat sites up the hill, where picnic lovers or other leisure-seeking people can take a rest.
But how does the company deal with Bluegum tree, which has a voracious tendency to suck water from the ground and also grow to huge heights?
According to Mr. Muraguri the ground on location is man-made and doesn’t have a lot of water. But in the case of trees growing too huge, they expect the landscaper in charge to tame the trees. The base of the Mountain is well secured with a fence leading to one main entrance.
Advocating for Go Green investments
The Mountain was formally launched on June 23rd, 2021 by CEO Wachiuri during the official launch of Optiven’s Go Green Awards event. Mr. Wachiuri hoisted a Go Green Optiven flag atop the mountain, and assisted by various invited guests, planted a commemorative tree just next to the flag.
The Awards aim at encouraging Kenya groups, individuals, NGOs and government officials and workers and even foreign residents residing in the country to engage more in activities that shall help in promoting the greening of the country and taking better care of the environment.
Focusing on six Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) namely number 6 on clean water & sanitation, 7 on affordable & clean energy, 9 on industry, innovation & infrastructure, 11 on sustainable cities & communities, 13 on climate action and number 14 on life below water, the awards shall recognize and reward people working in the SGDs related areas and providing positive change for the country and communities in a ceremony scheduled for Dec 11th, this year.