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It is a tyre jungle out here

Sheehan Kinyanjui makes a variety of playing equipment such as giraffes, hippos and elephants from waste tyre

Roy Lumbe @lumbe_roy

playground at RaceTrack Primary School is a display of creativity at its best. It’s the product of a year of sweaty work by a Nakuru-based designer who decided to build a man-made jungle for school children based on wildlife scenery.

The playground, which was built from recycled materials, is the fruition of an idea conceived by Sheehan Kinyanjui who chose to offer his clients a new artistic and fascinating use of waste tyres.

From the hardened rubber material, with some retaining their original form and shape, Kinyanjui repurposes the tyres into fresh eco-friendly playing ground equipment.

He has made a variety of playing equipment mimicking wild animals such as giraffes, hippopotamus and elephants.  Birds such as swans and flamingos made out of used tyres are also on display.  

That’s not all, the ground is literally a class, the fence round is curved into crayons, pencils and rubber shapes providing the students an easy way to master things while playing.

“If you are the curious type and would love to try your hand at this craft, you first have to dedicate your time and energy because the work requires concentration and commitment,” Kinyanjui says.

He buys some of the used tyres from local garages and petrol stations. The small ones go for Sh400 and truck tyres go for Sh900.

“I then wash them thoroughly and ensure there are no loose hanging wires. In this job you have to be committed and sacrifice your time since it’s not easy,” he says.

The process of creating an animal takes a maximum of two hours. This involves cutting  and bolting together two same-sized tyres to give height to the animal he wants to create.

Then holes are drilled on the upper part where manila ropes and wires are passed through back and forth to give the product the much weight and desired shape.

After this, the animals are mounted on a concrete slab to ensure it is steady. On completion, the product is painted depending on the wishes of the customer and transported to the intended destination.

“The process of making an animal will take up to a maximum of two hours depending on what you want to make, some can even take three days. We start by sampling the sizes of the collected tyres, cut them and bolt them together to make the desired shape you want. After completion the product is painted and dried,” says Kinyanjui.

A pupil at RaceTrack Primary School enjoys one of the tyre toys. Photo/ROY LUMBE

When we toured the school, it was almost break time, the children ran towards the ground with some enjoying the feel-good environment of the ‘wildlife’ set-up.

RaceTrack Primary School headteacher Caroline Njuguna says the school brought Kinyanjui on board after he presented his proposal of a childfriendly equipment for the Early Childhood Development Education  (ECDE) pupils.

Njuguna says the equipment is not only child-friendly, but are also in line with the new education curriculum.

She says that whether indoors or outdoors, children love to play and socialise in open environments, so it is necessary to create safe spaces for them to do this, stating that tyres are more safe for playing than metallic swings.

Kinyanjui started as a landscaping expert back in 1990s where he used to make home designs for locals in Nakuru by shaping flowers, carving stones and creating drainage. 

According to Kinyanjui, the main reason he ventured into the tyre business is after he saw a lot of them being discarded and some being burnt.

Being a designer, he tried his best to make  sense of what can be done to create something out of the tyres. He did a lot of research before coming up with the creative designs. 

He sold the idea to a friend and got the necessary support he needed and went forward to create animals which turned out to be a success. He then approached several institutions with proposals of creating for them a man-made jungle.

“I saw a lot of tyres being discarded as trash with others opting to burn them, however as a designer i saw an opportunity to create something which could be beneficial, i consulted a friend who psyched me up and i moved forward with the idea,” said Kinyanjui. 

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