Zanzibar has launched a bicycle riding campaign to stop environmental degradation in Stone Town, a designated World Heritage site, caused by motorised fossil-fuel traffic.
The campaign was symbolically led by the archipelago’s second Vice President Hemed Suleiman Abdulla and state officials who rode bicycles through the town’s narrow streets of the Unesco-protected town and was joined by the public and hospitality workers and owners who benefit from tourism.
Covering 96 hectares, the delicate and vulnerable Stone Town also weathers vagaries of the Indian Ocean on its centuries-old coral-stone buildings dating back two centuries.
Stone Town has seen an influx of tour vans, the annual Dhow Festival, International Film Festival, the Sauti za Busara and others.
Zanzibar Stone Town Heritage Society, an advocacy group is also worried about the archipelago’s extended economy that is piling pressure on historical sites and buildings, not to mention the construction of new hotels whose architecture is eroding the integrity by failing to conform to the traditional isles look.
Monuments susceptible to damage include the Old Fort, the House of Wonder (Bait al Ajaib); Old Ishnashri Dispensary; St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Cathedral; Christ Church Anglican Cathedral; the residence of the slave trader Tippu Tip; Malindi Bamnara Mosque; the Jamat Khan; the Royal Cemetery and the Hamamni and other Persian baths.