Solai estate owner Mansukh Patel dies aged 80 after short illness
Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah
Prominent businessman Mansukh Patel, the owner of Patel Farm in Solai where 48 people died in the country’s deadliest dam tragedy three years ago, died in hospital after a short illness.
The tycoon reportedly passed on, at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi on Monday where he had been admitted for four days.
Patel was the chairman of the Solai Group of companies which comprises the expansive Patel Coffee Farm in Bahati, Nakuru County.
Although he has managed to lead a largely private life, Patel was thrust into the limelight after one of the dams in his farm broke its banks on the night of May 9, 2018 causing death and devastation in its wake.
The serenity of the night was shattered when the raging dam waters swept away homes downhill, separating families—some permanently—as they were taking supper; while others were already in their beds.
It took combined efforts of Kenya Defence Forces, National Youth Service, Kenya Police Service, Red Cross Society Kenya and teams of volunteers several days to conduct rescue efforts as the country struggled to come to terms with the tragedy.
In a statement released a few days after the tragedy, Patel said that the company and the Patel family in particular “deeply regretted the occurrence” blaming huge rainfall in the area for the tragedy that caught global attention.
“Investigations point to the heavy rainfall in Dundori forest resulting in massive soil erosion with high-pressure water accompanied by dead stumps, logs and big boulders that hit the wall of the dam causing a huge gush of water into the farm and outlying settlements,” he said at the time.
But a few days later, authorities arrested his son Perry, who is the managing director of the Solai Coffee Farm, and nine others before they were presented at a Naivasha court. They were charged with manslaughter.
However, they were cleared of all the charges in February 2020. And in a twist of events, area MCA Peter Mbae (Kabazi ward) and eight others were later arrested and charged with incitement and malicious destruction of property.
Yesterday, Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui eulogised Patel as a respected farmer, industrialist and philanthropist.
“We are saddened by the demise of Patel. When I last visited his farm in March this year, I could not help but admire his work ethic and the resultant model farm that employed over 1,500 people,”the governor said.
He added: “He was a man of immense abilities and a rare gift of genuine concern for the community he lived in”
The Patels also own cooking salt Kensalt—one of the country’s oldest table salt—among other business ventures.
The family traces its roots to the United Kingdom where they were rated among rich families a few years ago.
The Independent newspaper described Patel in the coverage of the dam tragedy as “British millionaire.”
Original Source Website: : https://www.pd.co.ke/news/solai-estate-owner-mansukh-patel-dies-aged-80-after-short-illness-83669/