Nairobi, May 11,2018.Very little is known about Mansukul Patel, the owner of the dam that killed 48 people in Solai, Nakuru County. Those who have interacted with him say he is a reclusive person; nice and quiet despite employing thousands in his over 2,000 acre farm that deals majorly with cut flowers operating under Solai Roses.
According to residents of Solai where the expansive farm is located, access to the expansive farm with five mega dams is strictly restricted. “It is impossible to enter the farm without prior arrangements, “said a former civil leader who resides at Nyakinyua village. Although Patel’s family has been involved in a number of community social responsibility activities like building a classroom at Solai Secondary School, equipping a maternity at a local health center, they have completely denied surrounding communities access to the seven dams within their farms.
Veteran politician Koigi Wa Wamwere, who represented the area – when it was Nakuru North constituency said he found it strange that the Patel could have thousands of cubic Meters of water in those dams and refuse to share them with locals. “I once met one of the Patels long time ago when I was representing the area in parliament and they were very reclusive people besides doing a few community social responsibility projects in the area,” he recalled. Koigi said he had gathered that the dam started showing cracks and leaked before the disaster. “I am told some residents reported the issue to the management and also tried to prevail upon them to repair the dam. If this is true then serious investigations should be done and the culprit take responsibility,” he said. Not much is known about Mansukul Patel but Koigi described as a nice quiet man – aged between 50 to 60- who rarely interact with locals.
The Patel farm or Mimet Solai, as the farm is known, have a horticulture farm known as Solai Flowers, a coffee plantation and are involved in dairy farming. Visitors to the farm are normally of Asian origin. “We normally received visitors here at the weekends but most of them are of Asian origin. They come here for camping and meditation,” said a guard at the gate. When the Standard team tried to access the farm after the tragedy, we were told to seek appointment from the manager or the owner. A mobile telephone number we were given at the gate was unreachable for the better part of yesterday. There were claims that the dam that broke apart had started showing huge cracks that were leaking water before it burst the banks. Another residents said there were repair work taking place before the dam burst.
National Government officials including their counterparts in Nakuru County were cagey about the information regarding the dam. Interior cabinet Minister Fred Matiang’i said investigations have been launched to establish why the dam could no longer hold water.