[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ameshchandra Govind Gorasia, the proprietor of Airgate Mall, formerly Taj Mall is no stranger to run-ins with the government. In fact, in April 2017, he announced he would be vying for the Nairobi Senate seat to protect his businesses, describing the government as rogue and disrespectful to investors.
“If I join the Senate, I will be part of the Government and can move measures, through Parliament, to create policies that favour business people, tame graft, and create a conducive environment for business owners,” Mr. Gorasia said then.
Mr. Gorasia, whose motto at the time was “clean people, clean government, brighter future”, ran on a Wiper Party ticket in the August 8 General Elections. He lost to current Senator Johnson Sakaja.
The business that pushed him to join politics is the same that has pitted him against a government keen on demolishing all buildings sitting on riparian land and road reserves. Airgate Mall finds itself in the thick of the government drive. Being the biggest casuality of the demolitions, and sitting a stone’s throw from JKIA at the edge of some of Nairobi’s most populous estates (Pipepile and Embakasi), it has attracted lots of attention.
Gorasia is never known to take things lying down and has taken up a fight against the authorities over the recent demolition of the mall.
Cutting the image of a person misled into erecting the mall by corrupt government agencies, Mr Gorasia on September 17 gave the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) a 14-day ultimatum to investigate the agencies that gave him the go-ahead to erect the shopping complex.
The businessman who submitted a 580 page document to the crime busters wants DCI to probe the Ministry of Lands, Nairobi County Government, National Environment Management Agency (NEMA) and the Kenya Pipeline Company culpabability in unlawfully clearing him to construct the building.
The document contained the tittle deed of the controversial piece of land and clearance letters from all the agencies in question.
“I have availed this document to DCI so they can investigate. I hope that justice will be served because I don’t see no reason why documents bearing signatures of all relevant agencies are not enough evidence to bring the culprits to book. I have done most of the work for them,” said Mr. Gorasia.
This is a war many believe Mr Gorasia is unlikely to win as the government has in the recent past scaled up the crackdown on illegal buildings.
In July 2016, Mr. Gorasia moved to the High Court seeking to stop his prosecution over alleged forgery.
At the time he was being accused of forging the tittle of the land in which Taj Mall was erected. Property No LR No 20273 in Embakasi, Nairobi County. He claimed that he had acquired it legally on April 9, 1996.
The building was first earmarked for demolition in September 2016 as the government sought to expand the Outer Ring road. That never materialised as the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) re-designed plans for the Eastern By-pass.
Two years down the line, the building would still be a source of pain for the businessman who dared the government to demolish the building after it directed him to bring it down within two weeks from when the notice was served which was on August 16, 2018.
“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.
On September 15, the government made good its threat and demolished the building.