- The former MP says he is on the verge of completing a Sh15 billion real estate deal with a group from the United Arab Emirates that wants to develop a megacity on his 1,000-acre piece of land in Ruai but the title deed is held by the Central Bank.
In 1993, Mr Jirongo’s Offshore Trading Company charged the land as part security to help Sololo Outlets, another firm owned by the businessman, to acquire Sh1 billion loan.
The debt that has since climbed to Sh20 billion, primarily as a result of the high interest rates that prevailed in the 1990s and which have compounded over the years.
As Kenyans voted and waited for results in the country’s longest elections last year, one of the candidates on the ballot, Mr Cyrus Jirongo, was in the middle of a mouth-watering business deal that could change his life forever.
The deal, a multi-billion-shillings real estate development transaction that is now surrounded by uncertainty, exposes the complexities of Mr Jirongo’s financial dealings that have haunted him since the 1990s after his involvement with the shadowy YK’92 lobby that bolstered President Daniel arap Moi’s campaigns, largely through siphoning public funds.
Two weeks to the October 26, 2017 repeat presidential poll that had been ordered by the Supreme Court, the flamboyant former Lugari Member of Parliament had been declared bankrupt because of a debt of Sh700 million he owed a long-time friend-turned-foe, Mr Sammy Boit Kogo.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Mr Jirongo appealed the bankruptcy declaration and was allowed to contest the election as a United Democratic Party candidate. However, he performed dismally, coming last with a paltry 3,832 votes.
His uninspiring performance in the polls could be attributed to two main factors: lack of money with which to mount a serious campaign and the fact that his energies were firmly pre-occupied with making big cash, in the billions.
The lucrative deal, said to have taken eight months already, involves a group of deep-pocketed investors from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who want to develop a megacity on Mr Jirongo’s 1,000-acre piece of land in Ruai in the outskirts of Nairobi.
The proposed Ruai Park Estate, comprising 10,900 housing units which will be built in three phases, will stretch from the Eastern Bypass all the way to the Nairobi River towards Kilimambogo hills.
Neighbouring him on the other side of the river is the Kenyatta family which is putting up a dream city called Northlands on their 12,000-acre land at an estimated cost of Sh500 billion.
The Sh15 billion Jirongo project is the kind that has transformed UAE from a quiet backwater desert a few decades ago to one of the world’s most important economic centres on the back of massive gas and oil resources.
Now, barring obstacles, such a gleaming metropolis is about to be raised not far from the Nairobi sewerage treatment plant in Ruai, courtesy of Mr Jirongo and Sheikh Rakadh Group, one of the biggest private companies in UAE.
Its founder, Sheikh Rakadh Bin Salem Bin Hamed Bin Rakadh, is a member of the UAE royal family and one of the richest men in the country. In 1995 he had a stint as the president of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). He was the head of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources in 1996.
With a net worth estimated to be in excess of $8 billion, according to Forbes magazine, the sheikh, who is believed to be in his mid-70s, has been looking for business ventures abroad, particularly in Africa, which is widely considered the hottest investment destination today.
During the Transform Africa Summit held in Kigali in May 2017, the group announced plans to invest $50 million (equivalent of Sh5 billion) in the Rwanda Smart City Master Plan.
Mr Jirongo has long been looking for such a partner. “I would be stupid to throw away such a deal,” Mr Jirongo told the Sunday Nation yesterday in a mobile phone interview.
If the deal goes through, Mr Jirongo’s many financial troubles will have been solved with the stroke of a pen. As it is, the former Cabinet minister is not putting any cash into the deal — for he has little of it nowadays — but his equity in the project is his land which is valued at Sh4 billion.
This will give him a 50 per cent stake in the project which is expected to fetch anything between Sh40-Sh50 billion once the houses are sold. A one bedroom house is expected to sell for Sh3 million, said Mr Jirongo
The Emirati investors have already paid for the feasibility studies, soil tests, architectural designs and all the other relevant fees — totaling to more than Sh200 million.
According to the masterplan, which was drawn in September last year by the London-based architectural firm, Atkins, the first and second phases of the project will comprise a total of 8,068 units of which 3,800 will be two-bedroom, 1,900 one-bedroom and three bedrooms of a similar number.
Phase three of the project will comprise 2,832 units in total of which 1,416 will be two-bedroom, 708 will be one-bedroom and three bedrooms of a similar number.