Why the Infamous Yaya Towers Building was Abandoned for Good!

A prime piece of real estate known as Yaya Towers in Nairobi’s Hurlingham Estate has been vacant for over 30 years. The ill-fated Yaya Towers building has been a topic of discussion among Kenyans for more than three decades now.

The late Nicholas Biwott, a key cabinet minister in former President Moi’s era, possessed the property as part of his vast estate.

Although many knew him as the Total Man, he also went by another moniker, Bull of Auckland, which was only known in certain circles. After a humiliating diplomatic snafu in New Zealand in the 1990s, GG Kariuki teased him with the name in Parliament.

This is how it went down: Total Man was a member of Moi’s delegation to Auckland, New Zealand, for a Commonwealth Heads of State Conference. A female housekeeper, thinking the hotel room was empty, ran into Biwott in his room while he was “comando” one morning.

The lady bolted out a few moments later, screaming that Total Man had tried to rape her. The police were called, and he was arrested, but the matter was quietly settled to avoid a diplomatic row; but not before it became a matter of puns and taunts among his peers about how he almost ‘mounted’ a hapless innkeeper.

Construction of the Yaya Towers

A front view of Yaya Centre Business center in Nairobi. Photo/Courtesy

Total Man was a cunning and ruthless operator. He constructed Yaya Center as well as the eerie building next to it.

Trade Bank was a bank that went into bankruptcy, almost certainly on purpose. This bank was founded by two brothers; Alnoor and Iqbal Kassam.

Trade Bank was sued for allegedly fraudulently switching Yaya Center to itself. According to the story, the bank borrowed money from the Deposit Protection Fund to construct its own building, Trade Bank Building but instead billed the assets of Yaya Towers Ltd to guarantee the loan. This is because they advanced Biwott 900M in the early 1990s, which he never reimbursed.

The Kassams established Trade Bank, whose 75 percent was controlled by Biwott and his Israeli ally Gad Zeevi. These two also formed HZ Group, which owns Yaya Center.

They had already begun construction on the Yaya Centre Towers, but they were able to obtain loans for themselves through their bank in shady deals.

Kassam later began demanding repayment for the loan. These demands did not sit well with Total Man, who dispatched the state’s well-oiled machinery on Kassam. He fled to Canada, afraid for his life, and has not returned to Kenya since.

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Things Fall Apart