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Manager of killer Solai Dam finally speaks out

"We’ve send 2500 to 4500 loaves of bread, 1400 litres of milk every day and some 500 blankets and chocolates"

Vinod Jayakumar, the farm manager at Patel Farm has refuted earlier claims by the Government that the dam which killed 48 was illegally put up, hours after DPP Noordin Haji ordered Inspector General of Police to commence investigations.

Mr Vinod, who spoke to Friday afternoon, said that the dam which is over 20 years should not be a reason to justify that it was not legally put up.

“The dam collapsed because of natural calamities, we have so much rain. And the walls cracked and that’s how we ended up here. The dam is legally put up,” Mr Vinod said.

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He revealed that the farm has currently partnered with the National and County government to supply food to the families which have been affected. The families are currently camping at Solai Boys’ High School, which the Government on Thursday closed indefinitely.

“Currently we are just supplying food to them. We’ve sent 2500 to 4500 loaves of bread, 1400 litres of milk every day and some 500 blankets and chocolates.

“We have also supplied ugali, beans. We will ensure they feed properly,” he added.

The farm manager further regretted the incident, hinting at a possible compensation to over 500 families which have been affected, when the dam gashed out 70 million litters in less than an hour, killing 48.

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“We send our deep condolences. We are aware people have lost their valuables, we will harmonise things and you will be told what the company will do,’ Mr Vinod stated.

Mansukul Patel

Details earlier emerged that little is known about Mansukul Patel, the owner of the dam.

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.

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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.

Water sharing

Former area MP Koigi Wa Wamwere, reminiscing a time he bumped into Patel, said the manager once told 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.

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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.

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