Z’bar initiating fund for Stone Town restoration

13Mar 2021
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Z’bar initiating fund for Stone Town restoration

THE government of Zanzibar has initiated the process of establishing the Stone Town Restoration Fund for the renovation of the World Heritage Site.

This follows the dilapidated state of the area, leading to crumbling buildings, the latest being partial collapse of Beit-al-Ajaib (House of Wonders)—the tallest building in Stone Town which came apart last December 25, killing at least two people and injuring several others.

Tourism and Heritage minister Lela Muhamed Mussa said here yesterday that the process of establishing the fund has formally started and it is designed to allow foreign tourists as well as Zanzibaris in particular and Tanzanians in general to make donations to support restoration activities.

 The process coordinated by the ministry intends to oversee the development and protection of the Stone Town memorial sites.

“This idea was fronted by stakeholders who attended a meeting convened by President Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi after the collapse of Beit-al-Ajaib,” she said.

“The ministry saw it fit to embrace the suggestion of the majority and we are now working on establishing the fund.”

The fund will be transparent in its formation, management, collected donations and expenditure so that its financiers—the public through donations—know how their money is used.

Meanwhile, the minister reported that Zanzibari engineers were onsite to ensure that the House of Wonders withstands the coming rainy season as an official report on the way forward is awaited from Oman.

The building was undergoing restoration at a cost of 10bn/- principally with funds from the government of Oman, with preliminary works starting in November 2019 and an earlier schedule expected the work to be completed by February 2021.

The partial collapse of the House of Wonders was a huge blow to Isles tourism. Constructed in 1883, Beit Al Ajaib is the largest and tallest building in Zanzibar located at the UNESCO World Heritage Site area. It attracts tourists from all corners of the world and is a valuable asset in the generation of foreign exchange earnings for the Isles authorities.

Speaking after receiving a probe report on the collapse here last month, minister Mussa said that the contractor who was undertaking restoration works, Italian company Construzioni General Gilardi (CGG), was facing legal action as the government sought to compel it pay compensation for the loss and damages caused by the negligence leading to the crumbling buildings scenario.

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