As you traverse Nairobi City, it's hard to miss one of the famed iconic buildings whose green safety net was finally removed at Overseas Trading Company (OTC) along Ronald Ngala Street.
The building, which has been under construction for the past decade, has been hailed as a landmark - particularly for those traveling upcountry owing to the nearby bus station.
Unknown to many, Thika-based businessman, Victor Maina Ngunjiri, is the proprietor behind the building.
Past reports indicated that Maina has heavily invested in real estate, quarries in Juja, entertainment joints and construction companies stretching across various counties. The tycoon is also the face behind the Maathai Supermarket chain.
Acquiring the Building
According to a report by Nation, Maina purchased the building in 2006 from previous owners, Ravinder Lakhamshi Shah and Nilesh Dayalji Shah, with all the tenants still in occupation. The building was reported to cost Ksh72 million.
Among the first tenants at the building included the defunct Jack n Jill Supermarket that had made a reputable name for itself in the early 2000s.
However, a conflict between Maina and the supermarket owner, Schon Noorani, ultimately led to a six-year court battle which has been the epicenter of the building.
Tussle Between Noorani & Maina
In a civil suit No.317 of 2014, the supermarket owner faulted Maina for failing to provide a peaceful enjoyment of the premises within a seven-year period.
Noorani stated that Maina sought him to move out so that he could renovate the place. In a previous suit filed by Maina, he argued that the building required significant repairs owing to changes recommended by a surprise visit by the Business Premises Rent Tribunal in 2009.
The Tribunal pointed out that the building had existing cracks on the wall and sought it be closed till further repairs.
As a result, the recommendations compelled Chief Magistrate Charles Obulutsa to order Jack n Jill to vacate the premises temporarily to allow for repairs.
Aggrieved by the order, Noorani sought the decision to be revoked arguing that the seven-day notice was an inadequate period for the then-giant supermarket to relocate.
His plea was approved by the Court of Appeal which halted the order.
Further, the supermarket owner sought a rent refund amounting to Ksh4.3 million.
Responding to this, Maina argued that the case was based on a contractual obligation between a tenant and landlord and hence claimed that it lacked merit. The court ruled in favour of Maina and dismissed Noorani's plea.
In May 2013, woes mounted on Noorani after Jack n Jill was demolished- leading to the business owner counting huge losses.
Over the years, the building was renowned for its green net wrapped around the landmark as it stands out at the epicenter of Nairobi's OTC.