Building of Fort Jesus seawall back on track after funding

The Fort Jesus Museum in Mombasa. A seawall will be built around it to protect it from erosion. [File, Standard]
The construction of a seawall to reinforce the foundation of Fort Jesus Museum is back on track.

National Museums of Kenya (NMK) said the national government had released funds to enable the completion of works that started last year.

“Since we now have the funds, we expect the contractor, Yangguang Property Design and Manufacturing Ltd, to complete the remaining work by the end of May this year,” said Fatma Twahir, the chief curator at the Fort Jesus Museum.

The wall is being built to prevent strong waves from destroying the museum’s foundation. This after investigations revealed that the cliff on which the fort stands is slowly being eroded away.

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NMK had warned that if a barrier was not urgently erected, it was possible that further cliff erosion would cause the historical site to sink into the ocean.

Fort Jesus Museum was built by the Portuguese in 1596 and was declared a world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 2011.

Unesco highlighted it as one of the outstanding and well-preserved examples of 16th century Portuguese military fortifications.

NMK Director General Mzalendo Kibunjia had warned that heritage sites and landmarks like Fort Jesus, Vasco Da Gama Pillar, the old British Customs House and the Jumba la Mtwana were all at risk of being lost to the sea because of coastal erosion.

“These 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 Kibunjia.

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The NMK boss said the historical sites, which were some of the country’s greatest tourist attractions, were under threat from coastal erosion that was chipping away at platforms that had supported them for hundreds of years.

“Climate change is here with us and affecting world heritage and iconic sites around the globe and Kenya is no exception,” said Kibunjia as he called for funding of initiatives to protect heritage sites and monuments from falling into permanent ruin.

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National Museums of KenyaFort Jesus seawallFort Jesus Museum