He is “a nice man, aged 50-60, but rarely interacts with residents.”
Simply put, those who have interacted with him describe him as a reclusive person; nice and quiet. You won’t notice the thousands of people he has employed on his coffee and flower farms in the deep end of Subukia. He has employed over 2,000 on his farm.
A former employee of the farm quipped that it is hard to gain access to his vast farm, unless employed on the farm or with prior arrangement.
ALSO READ: Solai Dam Tragedy: What we know so far
Villagers have equally praised him for giving back to the society; he has built classrooms at Solai Primary School, equipped a maternity at a local health center.
In equal measure, however, villagers have not only been denied access to his seven dams, but also have no benefited from the waters collected, even if it means starving for water.
The Standard on Friday quoted former area MP Koigi Wa Wamwere, reminiscing a time he bumped into Patel, and would tell him off in his face that he wouldn't share the waters of the seven dams.
“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.
He added: “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.”
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.
It is understood that at some point in the recent past, residents took to the streets demanding that Patel release water for use by residents, which he declined.