Expect smooth traffic flow, KURA says as demolition of Taj Mall begins

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The urban roads authority has assured motorists plying the Outer Ring road and the Eastern Bypass that traffic snarl-ups will soon be a thing of the past.

In a statement on Saturday, acting Director General of the Kenya Urban Roads Authority Silas Kinoti said the authority will embark on the expansion of the road following the demolition of Airgate Mall formerly known as Taj Mall.

Demolition works on the multi-billion structure begun on Saturday morning after the National Land Commission confirmed last month that the mall occupied a section of Outer Ring Road.

“The availability of this space will now enable us to implement effective traffic flow systems to improve the functionality of the entire Outer Ring Road. In due course, motorist should now expect functional slip roads, service roads and other necessary facilities to improve movement of traffic around the affected area,” Kinoti said.

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Read: Chaos as cops tear gas ‘looters’ at Taj Mall, demolition halted for tenants to move

The Outering Road connects traffic between Thika superhighway and the Eastern Bypass on North Airport road.

It serves to divert traffic from Mombasa road that do not need to pass through the CBD as well as connect motorists from Thika superhighway to Mombasa road who have no business in the City centre.

The demolition of the mall kicked off as early as 6:30 am but was temporarily stopped to enable Kenya Power engineers to remove a generator from the building and enable tenants who had not vacated to clear their stock.

At some point, police used tear gas to disperse a group of youths who were attempting to storm inside the mall to loot scrap metal and valuables.

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The owner of the mall Ramesh Gorasia condemned the demolition of the building, faulting those who approved its construction.

Gorasia reiterated that he holds a genuine title deed and the acquisition of the land was legally done.

“I want to hand over [the documents] to the DCI so that he looks for these people who gave me all the approvals and either charge them or the people who have demolished,” Gorasia told journalists at the demolition site.

See: Taj Mall owner threatens to sue NLC, KURA for destroying his business

The businessman blamed the demolition of the Sh5.5 billion building on the authorities that approved its construction.

“One authority is wrong to demolish this mall. The good thing with land issues is that everything is documented,” Gorasia said adding that the drawings for the building were approved seven times.

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Airgate is the third landmark building to go down in the ongoing demolition of buildings that are either occupying riparian land on road reserves.

Others that have already gone down are South End Mall on Langata Road whose demolition kicked off on August 8.

Next on the line was the Ukay Centre in Westlands which was descended on by the now famous green Suny bulldozer on August 10 as the national environment watchdog, Nema, stepped up reclamation of wetlands in the city.

Other small demolitions have since been carried out mostly in informal settlements in Kibera, Kariobangi, Buruburu and Hurlingham.

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