Stalemate over Zanzibar Stone Town sites

MWANZA, Tanzania – The UNESCO World Heritage Centre has officially written to the Zanzibar government about the questionable state of conservation of the property at Zanzibar’s Stone Town “Mji Mkongwe.”  Ms Susanna Kari, Associate Expert (Africa Unit), UNESCO World Heritage Centre, based in Paris France wrote to Zanzibar government about the issue.
UNESCO wants more information on the state of conservation of the Stone Town but to date, the Zanzibar government has not replied.
“We have not received a reply yet and don’t have any more recent information,” Kari told East African Business Week last week.
However, UNESCO Director of Culture Ms Karalyin Monteal told East African Business Week recently that Stone Town status as a World Heritage site has not changed.
 “It is still a World Heritage site and it is not currently inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger,” she said.
She was commenting about reports that Zanzibar’s government would sell two old buildings by an international tender in Stone Town.
“Nevertheless it is the World Heritage Committee who make decisions regarding World Heritage properties,” Ms Monteal said.
In a written reply from France she said; “As a general practice, when the World Heritage Centre learns of this type of information, we send a letter to enquire with the State Party (Zanzibar government).”
The buildings number 292 situated at Kiponda and house number 27 situated at Shangani, both in Stone Town would be sold by international competitive tender.
House number 292 with 3,647.64 square metres is estimated to be more than 200 years old—was built during Sultan of Oman’s era.
It’s a three-storey building with 53 rooms and just 300 metres from Forodhani gardens, one of the major tourist attractions in Zanzibar.
House number 27 has an area of 1,075 square metres and all buildings are in good condition although they require normal renovation.
Both buildings are situated in Zanzibar’s Stone Town, a Unesco’s World Heritage site.