Wario recommends strict rules to conserve Lamu Old town

A street in UNESCO listed Lamu old town. PHOTO/ FILE.

Lamu, KENYA: Culture, Arts and Sports CS, Hassan Wario has recommended the introduction of strict rules that will enable the preservation of the Lamu old town as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lamu town was listed by UNESCO as a heritage site in 2001.

Speaking in Lamu during the closing ceremony of the just concluded Lamu cultural festival, Wario said his office was concerned that the old town risks losing its heritage if measures aren’t taken to preserve the same.

Wario noted that there was increased westernization in the town,something he said shouldn’t be the case for any area listed by Unesco as a heritage site.

He particularly cited the increased western architecture,kiosks along the sea front and businesses unfriendly to the existence of the old town.

“This is a Unesco world heritage site and that means it should depict the same.However what am seeing isn’t impressive at all and that’s why my office will see to it that regulations are formed to ensure people respect this site and others out there,”said Wario.

However, worse off is the increased number of automobiles that includes vehicles,motorcycles and even bicycles operating within the Lamu island.

Wario said the presence of automobiles destroys the very purpose for which the old town was listed in the first place and added that his office would draft regulations that will see to it that the old town and similar ones across Kenya are well preserved.

“There is just too much westernization and as it is,Lamu old town risks being delisted by UNESCO and we don’t want that to happen.All this automobiles must leave.People must live knowing they are in a heritage site.Its what makes Lamu unique.There will be nothing for tourists to come see if you decide to emulate other towns out there who aren’t heritage towns,”he said.

Wario said he would hold talks with the county and national governments in order to strike out all factors endangering the old town.

The Deputy Director at the National Museums of Kenya-NMK coast region Athman Hussein the town was at risk of losing its status as a heritage site due to too much infiltration from western cultures.

Speaking in his office on Tuesday,Hussein said the increased use of western dress codes among locals and visitors coming to the town was also a great hindrance to preservation of the old town’s culture and heritage.

He said the NMK was willing and ready to partner and cooperate with stakeholders to ensure the Lamu old town retains its stature by ensuring all people play a part in same.

Hussein said for decades,the unique culture and heritage of the Lamu people has been the greatest tourist attraction and said there is need for all to ensure the situation gets even better and not worse by preserving the town.

“Lamu being an old town and a heritage site has rules it must adhere to.So far theres too much contraventions to the rules and those required to ensure the town is preserved seem to be sleeping on the job.There are so many vehicles and motorcycles.There are so many shops and kiosks set up all over which shouldn’t be the case.We must stop this and save the old town,”said Hussein.