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Secret Deals: How Ruto Came To The Rescue Of Taj Mall Owner And Stopped Its Demolition




Taj Mall

In 2008, Nakumatt Chain Stores woke up to a rude shock when their Thika Road unit was brought down with all their goods inside. They lost billions in the demolition exercise. The store stood on the road reserve, and constructors were making way for the Thika Superhighway construction.

In 2013, the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) wrote to the National Lands Commission(NLC) to investigate the legality of the section of land where Taj Mall sits. September 2015, NLC in a letter to Ramesh Gorasia, the Taj Mall owner, revoked the title of part of the land on which the mall sits. It had been earmarked for demolition to pave the way for Outering Road expansion.

In an unusual move, Lands ministry quickly revoked the NLC’s directive on the mall’s title deed stating that it can only be revoked by court’s order. This gave Ramesh a reprieve. Taj Mall sits at the roundabout of Outer Ring Road, North Airport Road and Airport South Rd.

With a street value of $5M or Sh.5B, the mall’s owner Gorasia couldn’t stomach the thought of losing this valuable property and threatened to sue the government for compensation were they to effect the demolition order.

Taj Mall owner Ramesh Gorasia speaking to the media

Taj Mall owner Ramesh Gorasia speaking to the media

The history of the 3.7acres piece of land where the mall sits goes back to 1991 when Gorasia bought the first phase 1.75 acres and another two acres in 1995, both from Abuja Ltd before joining the two parcels. He bought this land when Former President Moi was still in power and irregularities in lands acquisitions were at an all time high.

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From what Kenya Insights gathers, Moi personally facilitated the sale of the property to Gorasia whom you can bet exchanged unknown amounts in return for the favours. The then Lands Commissioner Wilson Gachanja on instructions from Moi issued him with the title deed. The issuance was done in the presence of then deputy principal registrar of titles J M Okungu.

Faced with the horrible possibility that his Sh.5B mall would be brought down, Gorasia went on tears mode lamenting he was having problems even repaying the Pan African mortgage. He claimed Shelter Afrique loan was still withstanding. He also disclosed that he had other loans at Fidelity and Standard Chartered banks and an overdraft facility at Diamond Trust Bank.

However, her sympathy seeking please seemed to have fallen on dead ears, and KURA maintained the order and mall remained marked for demolition. Miraculously, in January earlier this year when the demolition was only weeks to be brought down, a change of tone signalled from the National Lands Commission. NLC Chairman Dr Mohammed Swazuri retracted earlier stand saying the Taj Mall property would remain unscathed.

Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) overhauled everything, the road structure and map was redesigned. In this new fishy development, Taj Mall was left out of the Outering Road expansion plan. Unluckily, bordering Oil Libya in Embakasi, Safeway Supermarket, Jogoo Petrol Station in Outering and Gulf Energy among others, were gazetted for demolition.

Deputy President William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto

The question in many people’s minds is how this could have possibly happened given the known pattern of the apparent demolition of earmarked structures on road reserves. Any sharp eye would see or even sense something unusual was cooking beneath the scenes.

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Now Kenya Insights can authoritatively reveal that Deputy President William Ruto had a secret hand in saving the Sh.5B structure from being brought down. A highly rated lawyer privy to the details of the deal confided to us that Ruto got into a blurry detailed deal with the Taj Mall proprietor Gorasia.

Even though our source speaking on strict anonymity conditions tactically withheld finer details into the nature of the agreement between the two, he affirms, “they entered into a contract, and you can leave it at that, it was. As a result, KURA was forced to redesign the road. This alone tells you executive influence had to come in. It’s not on a typical day that a road plan is changed for a small building.”

Like most of such alike deals, it is nearly impossible to link him directly as an art of proxy reigns. The DP is not a surprise guest in property and lands turmoils. His Weston Hotel along Langata Road sits on a contested land piece said to be a property of Kenya Airports Authority and was accused of being the unseen face behind the private developers who had plotted to grab a piece of Langata Primary School playing ground to create a parking lot for the suffocated Weston Hotel.

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Kenya West is a trained investigative independent journalist and a socio-political commentator on matters Kenya and Africa. Do you have a story, Scandal you want me to write on? Send me tips to [[email protected]]


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