Taj Mall owner dares Gov’t to demolish building
The owner of the much debated Taj Mall which has since been renamed to AirGate Mall has dared the government to go and demolish the building saying he will not remove it.
Speaking to the press where he confirmed receiving a two-week notice to demolish the mall, an emotional Rameshchandra Govind Gorasia said whoever wants to demolish the building, to do it themselves.
“I am saying this openly to any authority, I am not going to remove this structure, not even to my death! If they want to remove it, they come and do it themselves,” said an irate Gorasia.
“Whoever is ordering this demolition stop hiding, come out and face me, I am not scared of anything.”
The letter from the Multi-sectoral Committee on Unsafe Structures dated August 16, 2018, states that the building is encroaching on a road reserve hindering the continuance of construction of Outering Road.
“The owner(s)/developer(s) are asked to remove this illegal development before 30th August, 2018. The occupants/tenants at the Airgate Mall are asked to immediately vacate the building prior to the expiry of the notice,” reads the memo signed by agency’s chairman Moses Nyakiongora.
“Upon the expiry of this notice, the illegal development will be demolished or removed from the road reserve and wayleave at the owner(s)/developer(s) risk and cost.”
Gorasia alleges personal vendetta in the planned demolition all the while maintaining that the mall was never on the path to be demolished citing the initial plans and approvals from the government.
The MD decried the shutting down of shops by tenants saying that while he supports President Uhuru Kenyatta’s war on graft, innocent investors like himself are suffering unfairly.
He was speaking a day after the building was marked for demolition by officials claiming to be from the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) saying that the officials never identified themselves.
While referring to letters from the National Lands Commission (NLC) dated July 2015, Gorasia said that the mall was fully approved and paid for and was at the time valued at Ksh5.4 billion.
“I am a genuine investor in the country, I’m not a thief and I believe we are in a country with a Constitution,”said Gorasia adding that he purchased the land in 1996 when he was 21 years old.
Pictures making rounds on social media showed an almost empty mall with some tenants clearing their valuables from the premises.
“Tenants have been living in fear ever since they received the news that part of the building will be demolished,” lamented Gorasia.
Kenyans have since taken to social media to express their fury owing to the what they term as a diversion of a road to preserve the said Mall.
Gorasia however disputes these claims and instead faults the authorities, among them the traffic police saying that they have failed in their work resulting to the heavy traffic snarl-ups experienced in the area.
In January 2016, the government asked owners of premises along Outer Ring Road, earmarked for the Eastern Bypass expansion to vacate with immediate effect.
Speaking to Citizen TV then, National Lands Commission Chairman Dr. Mohammed Swazuri also said that title deeds for the said properties had been revoked.
“The officers who approve illegal structures should be prosecuted. I have no notice for demolitions and if the government was genuine they should have started with the mall,” said Gorasia.
“This does not mean that the building is not on road reserve when time comes it will have to go,” said Swazuri in 2016.
Gorasia has faulted the now suspended National Lands Commission (NLC) Muhammad Swazuri alleging that he was behind his current woes.
Additional reporting by Samuel Ramtu
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