The owner of Taj Mall building Rameshchandra Govind Gorasia may have lost billions of shillings after the building was brought down. But the demolition was a windfall for scrap metal dealers.
The hustlers are believed to have made a whopping Sh10 million from the sale of metals and other building materials they salvaged from the site after demolition.
These hustlers descended on the rubble after the demolition to scavenge for scrap metals, bricks, ballast, cabro blocks and even soil!
For two weeks running, the rubble at the Airport North and Outering Road intersection has been a beehive of activities, with sand and metal dealers camping at the site. The hustlers, drawn from allover the city, took control of the rubble, collecting any valuable thing that can be sold.
Denish Mwanzia who resides in Pipeline estate brags that the collapse of the building came as a blessing in disguise.
Mwanzia’s job at a company in Industrial Area had just ended and he was in the middle of nowhere when the bulldozers descended on Taj Mall located about a kilometer from where he lives.
The moment I saw the bulldozers and police officers, I knew things will never be the same again. We acquired the right tools and readied ourselves for the D-day,” he said, adding that they quickly bought an assortment of tools, including hacksaws, hammers and spades.
Immediately the building came down, Mwanzia and his friends started scavenging on anything on sight and they have become rich after just two weeks.
With scrap metal going for Sh40 a kilogramme, cabro blocks going for Sh5 per block, filling a lorry with ballast earning each shoveller Sh2,500, the hustlers say they make between Sh3,000 and Sh5,000 a day.
“It has been a good two weeks and I can tell you I am building a house back in the village with the money I am making from this site,” Ken Odhiambo from Kibera told The Nairobian. Odhiambo relocated from Kibera to stay with a friend in Pipeline to collect scrap metals. He said he has bought 30 sheets of iron sheets and will build a house in the village once they clear the rubble.
“The first week was better, but we are still making good money. I am not moving until the place is flattened and cleared,” he said.
Local women were not left behind as food business has been booming at the scene since the building came down. Makeshift food structures now surround the rubble with those digging the place to get metals and other valuables proving to be good and loyal customers.
Mary Bosibori who lives in Embakasi has been operating a food joint at the site for two weeks now. She says her business is doing well.
“I know it will soon end, but for now, let us enjoy it. As long as these people are still here, I will open my place,” she said.
Another man identified as Msaliti now wants the government to light up the area so that they can operate day and night.
“If they light up the area, we will clear this thing by next week. They don’t have to contract Chinese to clear the rubble. This is money,” Msaliti was reacting to reports that Chinese contractors will soon come back to the place to remove the soil to help them construct a service lane on Outering Road.
BobCastro Katch, who has a garage near Nationa Oil on Outering Road, has also indirectly benefited as people have approached him to lease his tools.
“They hire the big hammers and hacksaws and at the end of the day, they give you something,” he said. With everything from the building being sold, the hustlers could have made more than the estimated Sh10 million.
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