The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has renewed its quest to take up a space at the Lake Basin Mall, raising the revenue prospect of a building whose inflated cost has sucked in senior government officials.
Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) managing director Raymond Omollo confirmed that the agency was working on finer details before handing over one of the office spaces to the taxman.
“I can ascertain that we have resumed talks with KRA after they reaffirmed their commitment to move into the mall and we’ll be signing a contract soon,” said Mr Omollo.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has arrested a number of suspects on suspicion of colluding to inflate the cost of building the mall by Sh2.5 billion.
Former LBDA Managing Director Peter Abok, former board members Michael Obora, Dennis Mulaa and John Mango , internal auditor Albert Omondi, and production technologist Nelson Onyango are among the former officials who have had their day in court over the scandal.
Bobasi Member of Parliament Innocent Obiri, a Chinese contractor Zhang Jing and Kisumu County Assembly Speaker Onyango Oloo have also been charged while a former Attorney- General and at least one cabinet secretary have also been questioned over the scandal.
The move by KRA represents a swift change of heart, coming just three weeks after its western Kenya regional offices withdrew from a previous bid to occupy the mall, citing procurement malpractice.
Earlier, Tuskys Supermarket also pulled out of initial plans to be the anchor tenant in the biggest shopping complex in western Kenya in 2017.
Mr Omollo expressed confidence that the move will boost the fortunes of the troubled mall which has been struggling to fill up spaces since its completion close to five years ago.
According to the LBDA boss, the occupancy of the five-storey mall currently stands at 30 per cent.
But LBDA chairman Odoyo Owidi has indicated that the takeover by KRA is set to increase traffic flow to the facility which is located five kilometres off Kisumu-Kakamega Road.