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February 18, 2019

Taj Mall demolition to go ahead

DOOMED: A view of the Taj Mall along Outer Ring Road that is set to be demolished to pave way for road expansion.
DOOMED: A view of the Taj Mall along Outer Ring Road that is set to be demolished to pave way for road expansion.

THE demolition of part of Sh5.5 billion Taj Mall in Embakasi looms after the National Land Commission revoked the property's title deed to pave way for road expansion.

This comes four months after the Lands ministry suspended the revocation of the title for the plot, stating that a revocation can only be done through a court order. NLC had in a letter to Ramesh Gorasia, the Taj Mall owner, dated September 30, revoked the title of part of the land on which the mall sits.

In a gazette notice last Friday, NLC listed over 70 parcels of land earmarked for the road expansion project along the Outering Road, among them part of Taj Mall.

The mall whose owner said cost $5 million (Sh511.5 million) to build has been losing tenants for the past few months owing to this tussle with the government.However anchor tenant Uchumi Supermarkets is still operating its business in the premises.

NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri had said the government compulsorily acquired the land in 1960 for the expansion of North Airport and Outer Ring Roads.

In 2013, the Kenya Urban Roads Authority wrote to the commission to investigate the legality of the section of land where the mall sits.

Gorasia told the Star last October that he acquired 1.75 acres in 1991 and another two acres in 1995, both from Abuja Ltd then joined the two parcels.

Apart from Taj Mall, other businesses set to lose their premises include Oil Libya in Embakasi, Safeway Supermarket, Jogoo Petrol Station in Outering and Gulf Energy among others.

Gorasia has previously warned the government against revocation and acquisition of his property for the road project warning it that he will take the matter to court.

“I would rather die than see this building brought down after years of struggle,” he said last October.

The Outering road project is being implemented by Kura and will be done in four phases, the agency said last year.

The first section of the 13-kilometre road will cover the General Service Unit  junction with Thika Road to Kariobangi junction.

The second section will run from Kariobangi to the Kangundo Road junction, while the third section will pick up from there to Donholm junction. The fourth section will cover Donholm to the Eastern Bypass junction (Airport South Road).

Major demolitions have been done previously to make way for road construction in the country. In November 2008, giant retailer Nakumatt's Thika Road store was demolished, catching the management unawares as it had not removed goods from the store. The supermarket chain said it lost over half a billion shillings worth of stock.

In 2004, the then Roads and Public Works ministry ordered for demolition of several high-end homes and business premises sitting on several road reserves across the country.

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