NAIROBI, KENYA: The owner of Embakasi’s Taj Mall has dared authorities to demolish his property in an emotional press briefing on Thursday morning.
Addressing reporters an angry Rameshchandra Govind Gorasia had a request to the demolition squad: Pull down every bit of the building.
But at the same time he has pleaded with President Uhuru Kenyatta to instead turn the facility into hospital, market or school saying that there was no need to bring the building down as it does not occupy public land.
“If you want to demolish this building do it, I don’t care, I am tired of hearing about its demolition now for over five years,” said Gorasia, owner of AirGate Center Mall, formerly Taj Mall.
“I have suffered enough since rumours of demolitions losing Sh2 to 3 billion in rentals, it is enough. Please bring it down even now. I don’t care,” he said.
Mr Gorasia said the expansion of Outering Road from the Thika Superhighway led to rumours that his mall was earmarked for demolition as it was allegedly located on public land.
The mall was officially opened on August 1, 2011 by then vice president Kalonzo Musyoka. Reportedly valued at Sh5.5 billion by valuation firm, Redfern, the massive property now operates at 10 per cent occupancy rate. This, according to Gorasia, is a far cry from the days when just one tenant, Uchumi Supermarkets, paid Sh5 million in monthly rent for the entire second floor. Taj Mall has four floors besides the rooftop which was also rented out.
The exodus of tenants saw his real estate firm, Taj Investments, reduce employees from 500 to 30 since problems between him, the National Land Commission (NLC) and Kenya Urban Road Authority (Kura) started.
“All the clients ran away when KURA wrote directly to them, and asked them to vacate. I wonder why they didn’t write to me directly as the landlord. Why write to my tenants without informing me? The way the issue was handled was so malicious,” said Gorasia, in a previous interview.
NLC had revoked Taj Mall’s tittle deed in 2013, but Gorasia got a reprieve after the road expansion was re-designed.