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NMK surveys 600 Lamu Old Town buildings for restoration

Franc

Jan. 23, 2020

In Summary
• Lamu Old Town alone has more than 1,200 buildings key to the island's history and heritage, structures are also major tourist attraction sites. • First survey in 1976 to lay the foundation for the preservation and planning of the old town.
The National Museums of Kenya is surveying the more than 600 historical buildings in Lamu Old Town to establish their current stature for possible repair and restoration. The old town was listed as a Unesco world heritage site in 2001. The NMK Lamu has on numerous occasions raised concern over the poor state of most of the historical buildings in the town with many said to be on the verge of collapse. The old town alone has more than 1,200 buildings key to the island's history and heritage. The structures are also major tourist attraction sites. Lamu Museums and World Heritage Sites curator Mohamed Mwenje said on Thursday that the exercise could last three to four months. He said a special report will thereafter be compiled detailing the state of each individual building and the necessary recommendations. Mwenje said the final report will equally enable the NMK to solicit funds for the repair and restoration of the buildings. This will be the second inventory survey of the old town after the first baseline survey in 1976. The first survey, which eventually resulted in the identification and preservation of a few isolated monuments, was purely to lay the foundation for the preservation and planning of the old town, the curator said. The survey also raised awareness and heightened the prominence of cultural heritage in Lamu and also in Kenya as a whole. Mwenje said it was unfortunate that so much has happened over the years leaving some of the historical structures in bad shape. “Since then, buildings that had been identified as historical have undergone immense changes. The current survey to unearth the specific changes they underwent and finally be able to list and classify them as required for restoration,” Mwenje said. Listing will be done according to grades, he said. “Grade 1 listing will be for buildings whose old features are still intact while Grade 2 will be for those which have lost some of their original features. Grade 3 will be for those that have lost all their original features by most probably tampering." He added, "We are undertaking this with modern technology like android phones and others. We will then have a report that will help to fundraise for repairs." Early last year, NMK announced that at least Sh200 million was needed for the urgent restoration and maintenance of key historical sites and monuments in Lamu. Most owners of historical buildings in the town have been unable to keep up with the strict consistent preservation measures required. Edited by R.Wamochie
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