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Disputes take toll on Kirima family’s abattoir in Nairobi

Meat awaits collection at an abattoir. Nairobi County Assembly Committee on Agriculture wants the City Hall to regulate meat industry to ensure safety

Meat awaits collection at an abattoir. Nairobi County Assembly Committee on Agriculture wants the City Hall to regulate meat industry to ensure safety

The Njiru abattoir that was set up in the late 1960s by the late Gerishon Kirima has been reduced to a pale shadow by family wrangles and is in danger of being overrun by private developers.

Although the facility used to handle hundreds of cattle a day, now only a handful are slaughtered indicating the toll that years of family infighting has had on the business empire the late politician built.

“Due to family wrangles, business at the facility has deteriorated. For instance, the abattoir used to slaughter 300 cattle per day. However, the number had reduced to three cattle per day,” says a report on the status of abattoirs in Nairobi.

These are cattle brought by individuals who use the facility for a fee.

The family of the former Starehe MP who died in 2010 aged 88 has been embroiled in multiple legal suits over his vast estate which comprised huge tracts of land, real estate holdings and other businesses like the slaughterhouse.

The abattoir, which was one of the first African-owned, propelled Kirima to become a meat tycoon and signalled the beginning of the end for the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC).

The report by the Nairobi County Assembly Committee on Agriculture notes that the conditions of the floor and slaughtering areas have deteriorated and require refurbishment to improve on hygiene.

The wrangles have also left the land on which the abattoir sits open to private developers which may sound its death knell.

“The abattoir is located on family land on which construction by private developers is being undertaken although the family has moved to court to seek an injunction stopping the ongoing developments,” says the report.

The battle for the land is not new with police previously having been called to evict squatters who claimed to have lived on it for more than 10 years.

The Naridai Muoroto Self Help Group mid-last year claimed that the 500-acre piece was public land.

The land is, however, one of the properties that is expected to be distributed equally among 15 family beneficiaries after the Kirima heirs reached a deal sharing the multi-billion-shilling estate in October last year.

Soon after Independence, a young Kirima set up bars and butcheries across several city estates, and proceeded to acquire thousands of acres of land from white ranchers. This set the stage for his control of Nairobi’s meat value chain.

However, in those post-colonial days, African butchers were not allowed to run abattoirs or sell meat in the city and it was Mr Kirima as the first chairman of the Kenya National Butchers Union who petitioned President Jomo Kenyatta to lift the ban that had given KMC a monopoly.

It was on this successful meat business and real estate that he built his business empire.

Business Daily

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