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Kenyans lose millions as Suraya housing project collapses

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A number of Kenyans have found themselves counting losses in millions of shillings after the Suraya projects failed.

This despite the off-plan investment gaining popularity in the country.

Lynx -Royal Estate, a development under the Suraya Properties Limited, is a real estate developer that has now earned itself a bad record.

According to Wairimu Thimba, an investor, the said property was to be completed in 2014, with the payment plan being in instalments.

The final instalment being after the keys were handed over to the investors.

“We have tried reaching out and they can’t answer… I go there and they do not do anything,” said Wairimu.

It was after a series of unanswered emails that forced her together with the other aggrieved investors to visit the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on Thursday to record their statements as well as pay a visit to the Suraya properties offices to at least have the matter sorted. But all that was in vain.

Skyrocketing housing prices and unpredictable rent regimes have witnessed emergence of ‘smart’ investors in Nairobi who buy apartments off-plan at discounted prices, where one gets to investment or buys the property before it is completed.

It is a risk which despite offering flexible mode of payments, and an opportunity for an investor to own property at an affordable rate.

READ ALSO:   More trouble for Suraya as prime property up for auction

Sometimes the developer might halt the project which according to Beatrice Wachuka, research analyst at the Cytonn Investments, should be a cause for alarm for any investor.

“You have to keep on visiting the sites to know, most times when it stops it is because, there is disagreement between contractors, or lack of capital,” said Wachuka.

“I feel they started these projects and then another without channeling our money where it was meant to build, it was just greed,” lamented Wairimu.

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Sh40m high-end vehicles concealed as household goods impounded – VIDEO

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Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officers on Tuesday seized three high-end vehicles worth Sh40 million which had been concealed as household goods at the Port of Mombasa.

The vehicles, which included two Range Rovers and a Mercedes Benz, were seized following an intensified crackdown on the importation of contraband goods.

The container had been declared as containing personal and household effects but during verification at the container Freight Station (CFS) it was found to have actually been loaded with the vehicles.

“On July 30, 2019, Customs Enforcement Southern Region received scanner alert pointing towards mis-declaration of a 40-foot container,” KRA said in a statement.

“The container which had been declared to contain personal and household effects were inspected non-intrusively using the Customs X ray scanner in Mombasa. The scanner image revealed that the contents of the container were three high-end motor vehicles, inconsistent with the declaration.”

The manifest showed the consignor for the cargo is in United Kingdom, while the consignee is in Kampala, Uganda.

PHOTO | COURTESY OF NTV
PHOTO | COURTESY OF NTV

KRA officers believe the vehicles were stolen from the United Kingdom.

“Kenya Revenue Authority is working in partnership with the local and international investigation and enforcement agents including the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the Kenyan and International Police (Interpol) to get to the root of the syndicate,” KRA further said.

READ ALSO:   More trouble for Suraya as prime property up for auction

This is not the first time containers declared to be containing household goods have turned out to be carrying high end vehicles.

In June 2019, KRA intercepted two high-end motor vehicles at the Port of Mombasa suspected to have been stolen from the United Kingdom.

According to import documents, the Range Rover Sport cars, which were subject of an international motor vehicle crime and smuggling investigation, were on transit to Uganda.

by nairobinews

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Duped and dumped: Pain of tourists in hands of fake agents

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Con artists posing as tour agents have swindled hundreds of tourists from various parts of the world, threating Kenya’s image as a tourist destination.

The con men use fake online campaigns, complete with sweet reviews and budget tourism packages to lure foreigners who make advance payments before they are abandoned in Kenya once they arrive and pay the rest of the cash.

The Sunday Nation has also learnt that the cartel, which runs deep in the industry, has perfected the art of evading law enforcement officers by changing names, staff and tourist vans before resurfacing during high seasons to mint millions from helpless tourists visiting the country.

One of the latest victims of such a scam is Mr Chen Dong Yuan, a 51-year-old Chinese engineer from Changsha, who could not have been more excited to take advantage of the direct flights launched by the China Southern Airlines in June to visit Kenya.

Kenya had lauded the airline’s bi-weekly flights from Changsha and back to Nairobi with its 330-200 Airbus planes, added to the non-stop flights to Guangzhou, as one of the biggest boosts to its tourism sector with prolific tourists from China, ranked by United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) as the world’s top spender on tourism in 2017.

Mr Chen had no idea what awaited him and his five friends in Nairobi after planning and paying 50 per cent deposit to Kenya Walking Survivors Safaris Limited for the eight nights in different tourism spots around the country. That was in early July.

Their plane touched down on the morning of July 31 and what was their lifetime dream to take a nine-day tour of Kenya began with a driver from the company promptly picking them from the airport.

READ ALSO:   More trouble for Suraya as prime property up for auction

“We went to their officers where I paid $2,820 (about Sh295,000), which he insisted should be in cash. We then set off for Amboseli for two nights as per the itinerary. We had the vehicle but the driver changed outside Nairobi. On our way back, the driver told us the company that handed us to him had suddenly closed and our trip could not continue unless we made fresh arrangements,” Chen told the Sunday Nation, beginning his tragic tale of tourists in the hands of con men. In a foreign country and in the middle of a tour, a sudden stop was unimaginable. Their online guide (Mr Otieno Lysaniash) who also received the money when they arrived, had switched off his phone and true to the driver’s words, the office located at Vision Plaza was closed.

Mr Chen chose to complete the trip when the driver suggested that if they paid more, he would take them to the Maasai Mara, Naivasha and Nakuru as per the previous plan. They agreed and paid, doubling their tour budget and turning an otherwise happy trip into a struggle to beat the cons and survive any other attempt to fleece them. The driver, Stanslaus Ongeri, told the Sunday Nationthat he was only hired as a freelancer by the firm and did not know the whereabouts of its owner, Mr Otieno, who he also claims made him to lose Sh25,000 in unpaid expenses.

The con victims had only Mr Ongeri after they were abandoned. Given the limited time they had and the shock that came with the first attempt to scuttle their trip, they had little choice but to rely on him even to report the matter to the police, despite the mistrust they developed towards him for having been part of the company that swindled them.

READ ALSO:   More trouble for Suraya as prime property up for auction

In Maasai Mara, they met another group of tourists who immediately identified the driver and attempted to beat him up.

They had been swindled by the same company and it took Mr Chen’s group to protect their driver from the angry tourists, an experience Mr Ongeri admitted but again claimed to have been an innocent freelance driver. It was getting worse and they could not trust him again.

“We hardly slept and every time we had to leave the car, we took the car keys so that he doesn’t abandon us. It is very sad that so many other tourists could be going through such an experience. The Kenyan government must save this situation because it will dampen the desire among those coming to visit the country. We are going back to China very bitter,” Mr Chen, whose case was booked at the Industrial Area Police Station under OB65/2/8/2019, said.

True to his words, many people have suffered under the travel agency, which seems to have mastered the art of swindling foreigners, closing shop and re-emerging only during high season.

The plot involves creating attractive packages and engaging foreigners online in a manner  suggesting good customer service. Once they are in the hook, the tourists, who in many cases have fixed schedules and have no other contact people in the country, are abandoned sometimes at the border crossings between either Kenya and Uganda or deep in the game lodges to find their way back and travel to their home countries.

The con men also change the key contact people once the tourists arrive, including a different driver to cut links before leaving them stranded.

READ ALSO:   More trouble for Suraya as prime property up for auction

Travel sites have already blacklisted the firm with its reviews, which are said to be doctored to mislead tourists.

“TripAdvisor has grounds to investigate that individuals or entities associated with this property may have attempted to interfere with traveller reviews and/or the Popularity Index for this property. Please take this into consideration when researching your travel plans,” the travel site flagged on its website this week.

The Sunday Nation could not reach Mr Otieno as his Mombasa Road office remained closed as adjacent shops either feigned ignorance or were too scared to talk about the firm.

Online, tens of tourists from around the world complained of bitter experiences after their trips were cancelled just before their departure dates while dealing with Kenya Walking Survivors Safaris Limited.

Some of those affected from Canada, Argentina, Taiwan, India, US, Brazil and the United Kingdom have reported the cases to the police with little action taken.

“Our honeymoon trip is in three days and we just received an e-mail that the company has technical problems and therefore cannot give the required services. Mr Otieno just wrote that we will receive the funds between 45-90 working days. I’m really panicking,” a couple from the US wrote on Friday.

Kenya received some 2.1 million tourists in 2018, with the US remaining the top source. China, which was ranked sixth, sent 81,709 representing a 4.03 per cent growth from the previous year.

Attempts to reach Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala on the happenings that are now a big threat to tourism in Kenya were futile as it emerged he had accompanied President Uhuru Kenyatta on a tour of  Jamaica.

BY nation.co.ke

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SPONSORED: Tujibambe Mombasani Na Optiven #IssaCoastPlan

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As you pursue your dream of investing in a super value added project, we are also making sure that you enjoy the deal of a lifetime that comes with a super romantic holiday for two at the Kenyan South Coast.

We are giving you a fully paid for holiday in Mombasa, for you to enjoy the sunny beaches, breeze and feel of the Indian ocean, the best of African cuisines and more in an all inclusive experience in one of the best holiday destinations.

All you need to do to qualify is to invest in any of our projects on offer with at least Ksh 2 Million, or redeem your instalment with the same amount, for the period between 5th August and 5th November 2019 (90 days period).

This will make you qualified for a FULLY PAID 3 days holiday for 2 in Mombasa.

Take advantage of this offer and enjoy this FREE holiday with your lover or spouse.

Projects on Offer

Amani Ridge the Place of Peace – Kiambu

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This is a unique and extremely posh, leafy place for you as you seek to realize your desire to live in extremely peaceful surroundings and experience scenic, clean and beautiful environment. It is exclusively meant for you as you pursue real and guaranteed quality life for both self and family. Amani Ridge is a Jewel for a chosen few. It is a place of peace.

READ ALSO:   More trouble for Suraya as prime property up for auction

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