A multi-million sea wall is currently being constructed to protect the already damaged foundation of Fort Jesus Museum in Mombasa from strong tidal waves and effects of global warming of the Indian Ocean.
The Sh500 million wall construction comes at a time when several other historical monuments and sites in coast region are in danger of collapsing due to extreme water levels and erosion.
Classified under the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Fort Jesus built in 1591 which is today a major tourist attraction is under threat of collapsing as the cliff on which the Fort stand is slowly being eroded by sea water.
According to the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) who are the custodians of national monuments and sites, the on-going construction of the sea wall that initially faced resistance from the County Government of Mombasa over claims of land reclamation, will be completed in the next six months.
The NMK Director General Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia, has sounded an alarm that strong tidal waves caused by a warming planet are putting iconic and historical sites across the coastline at great risk.
Climate change is here with us, and affects world heritage and iconic sites, and Kenya is no exception, said Dr Kibunjia, during an exclusive interview with Kenya News Agency in Mombasa.
The NMK boss said the Vasco da Gama Pillar in Malindi, Jumba la Mtwana (House of Slave) in Kilifi, Shanga and Taqwa ruins in Lamu, and the Old British Customs House in Vanga are some historical sites that are facing uncertain future due to rising sea levels.
When KNA visited some of the sites, the team witnessed the extent of the damage caused by the sea water following surging waves during high tides.
The Vasco da Gama Pillar is a key attraction site for both local and international tourists visiting Malindi, and is on a point of collapse following the corrosion of its base by the sea water.
Underwater Archaeologist Caesar Bita said the Pillar, which was erected in 1498 by a renowned Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, requires over Sh50 million for rehabilitation and stabilization works.
Mr. Bita, who is also the Curator of Malindi Museum said the immediate rescue measure is to harden the shore with materials such as stones to protect the Pillar from wave attack.
The remains of two old mosques, one at Taqwa and another at Jumba ruins which have been preserved for over 500 years are also at risk.
NMK director of Antiquates, Sites and Monuments Dr Purity Kiura said all the entire historical sites in Coast region are facing imminent collapse if corrective measures are not taken soon.
These entire historical and cultural sites along the shoreline enlisted by UNESCO for their outstanding universal value now face perilous and uncertain future due to rising sea levels, said Dr Kiura.
Speaking when she visited Jumba la Mtwana at Mtwapa in Kilifi County to familiarize herself with the extent of the damages, the NMK official stated that the rising sea levels fueled by melting glaciers and ice caps threatens to swallow these coastal landmarks, saying loses to the tourism industry are expected should the sites fall victim to a warming planet.
Historical sites which are also the country’s greatest tourist attractions are under threat from coastal erosion that is chipping away the platforms that have supported them for hundreds of years, she added.
Dr Kibunjia said over S billion was needed for the rehabilitation and construction of sea walls to protect these precious heritages.
He further said sea walls have become a common activity globally as a form of coast defense to mitigate the effects of rising sea levels and erosion.
Source: Kenya News Agency