A joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission was carried out between 5-9 May 2008, at the invitation of the State Party following a request made by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007), in order to assess the state of conservation of the property and factors affecting its outstanding universal value, and progress made in implementing an impact assessment of the Malindi Stone Town Port development project.
The State Party’s report requested in Decision 31 COM 7B.49 was only made available to the mission experts at their arrival to the World Heritage property. The mission report provides detailed background on the rationale for the Port development project and on steps in project implementation since its initiation in 2004. To summarize:
a) The current project, funded by the European Commission has been planned to rectify the failures of an earlier attempt (1989-1991) to extend the original 1927 British colonial period quay.
b) The Feasibility Study and Recommendation for the Rehabilitation of the Malindi Port performed for the State Party in February 2004, indicated two possible options: Option A (a suspended concrete slab and pile solution, similar to the existing, described as the most feasible option if a sizable percentage of piles could be re-used with the least obvious disadvantages/impacts), and Option B (a vertical wall and fill solution, less costly than A, but possibly having negative impacts on the marine environment). Option A was chosen for implementation by the government of Zanzibar.
c) Prior to commencing the project, the contractor’s study of the condition of the existing piles indicated all would have to be replaced and that the cost of this option would increase from 16 million dollars to 40 million dollars.
d) Based on a Hydraulic Study and a Wave Movement and Water Level Study carried out by the European Commission in Sept. 6 (which suggested that environmental impacts of Option B would be incidental), the European Commission informed the State Party that it could only support proceeding with Option B.
e) The Port Authority agreed with this proposal formally in Nov. 2006, given that operations associated with analysis of the two options had already resulted in a large loss of income for the Port over 9 months, and loss of confidence in users of the Port, and the Port Authority’s belief that the European Commission would withdraw funding if Option B were not pursued. However the Port Authority made its acceptance of Option B conditional on a Baseline Survey of current sea conditions and impacts being conducted, followed by a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and an impact monitoring process after 5 years of use (with full participation by World Heritage Centre experts); the Port Authority also stressed that the project should have no adverse impacts on the natural and heritage environments, that the terms of reference (TOR) of the Baseline Study and the EIA should be drafted by the Zanzibar Department of Environment, (and include assessment of impacts on the cultural environment of Stone Town, as well as provisions for mitigation if required after the 5 year monitoring process mentioned above), and that the European Commission accept to pay for the Baseline Survey and EIA work.
f) From this point, poor communications among all project partners (the European Commission, the European Commission’s environmental consultant, the Port Authority, the Department of the Environment of the Government of Zanzibar, the National Authorising Officer of the State Party, the Stone Town Conservation and Development Authority - STCDA), have resulted in the project proceeding without any of the necessary or agreed approvals, surveys or environmental assessments being in place.
g) The Department of Environment of Zanzibar insisted, in the absence of the Baseline Survey and EIA, that there was still a need for an Environmental Impact Audit of Option B, inclusive of the bio-physical and cultural environments, with accompanying monitoring for a 5 year period, in order to be able to identify causes for possible negative impact/s as well as responsibility for possible remedial actions.
h) Construction of the Port will be complete in November 2008. At the time of the mission, with 66% of the work completed, only a very limited Baseline Survey had been performed. Further, the mission uncovered additional and previously unreported impacts related to the changeover from Option A to Option B. This includes dumping of imported fill related to dredging operations in the green belt of the Stone Town, unauthorized and undocumented demolition of two protected 1927 warehouses contrary to the provisions of the 1994 Stone Town Heritage Act, unauthorized erection of a large yellow steel stop-barrier which offers a “huge negative impact on the cultural environment in terms of form and colour” and a new connecting bridge between the jetty and quay, also erected without review or approval, again with a large negative visual impact, and the revival of the original concerns with Option B, that it could cause an increase of transfer of diagonal wave forces on the sea wall of the waterfront, already in poor condition, and which could result in failure of the wall, with accompanying impact on the sea front historical buildings and the waterfront road.
i) While the World Heritage Centre has stated by letter of 15 January 2007, that results of an EIA were required in order to determine whether there would or would not be any negative impacts on the property resulting from the Malindi Port project. During this discussion it transpired that the European Commission had never once referred to the Nomination Dossier Map which shows the limits of the World Heritage property, and that issues relating to the property were not wilfully neglected, but rather because they did not realise the need for consideration of potential risk to the World Heritage property. This was due to the fact that the Port rehabilitation project was executed in 1989-91 before Inscription, and that the current activities were only intended as remedial work, similar to the existing.
j) In conclusion, the mission report regretted that the Malindi Port rehabilitation project was not conceived in regard for the protection requirements of a World Heritage property and its outstanding universal value, nor executed in accordance with the requirements of the Operational Guidelines. The mission report believes that this was due to a series of fundamental but unintended procedural errors at the start of the project, because the Port Authority and the National Authorising Officer were under the impression that the project involved remedial work on an existing project begun before Inscription on the World Heritage List, and therefore not perceived as a new project requiring assessment. Also, according to discussions held during the mission, the European Commission was under the impression that the Port was located outside the World Heritage core area , following consideration of a map of the conservation area, included in the 1994 Heritage Act. The mission further regretted that Option B has been implemented without the compilation of a comprehensive and suitable Baseline Survey and EIA. The lack of such a survey now makes it impossible to fully ascertain how Option B will perform relative to Option A.
k) Accordingly, the mission report suggests that by immediately carrying out a thorough and independent study, it will be possible to adequately ascertain any negative impacts caused by the completed Option B by conducting an Environmental Impact Audit on both the cultural and bio-physical resources. The mission report notes that both World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS should be involved in a review of the Impact Audit document and its findings, and that the Department of Antiquities, as the relevant focal point for management of World Heritage in Tanzania, must request the National Authorising Officer to formally request the European Commission to undertake this Impact Audit and Monitoring project.
l) The mission report further suggests that the location and remains of the demolished 1927 warehouses should be documented (through drawings) by a heritage specialist if these do not exist in the Archives, and the drawings subsequently lodged with the STCDA.
The mission report (May 2008) also includes a comprehensive and detailed state of conservation review. The visit to the World Heritage property showed that it was still in a “fair” state of conservation. However, the mission pointed out significant problems related to development pressures, loss and degradation of historical buildings and elements, lack of integrated management, and lack of interpretation and presentation of the criteria for outstanding universal value. The mission report notes that an awareness of what World Heritage status implies and requires is not sufficiently internalised by all the stakeholders of the World Heritage property. Actions need to address this lack, and to bring together stakeholders who have up to the present been intervening in isolation, in order to harmonise and optimise interventions. The mission report notes the need for an harmonious working relationship through an urgent stakeholders meeting that will attemt to create a cooperation among various stakeholders, and establishing a formalized platform for stakeholders to share common visions and objectives for the sustainable conservation of Stone Town, within the framework of an appropriate management and conservation strategy (inclusive of an Integrated development plan and heritage management plan).
The mission report notes that the Report in Preparation for the Periodic Review (Pound & McDermott, Feb 2006) stated that if there was no improvement in the rate of loss of historic buildings over the next 3 years, the property would be ready to be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. While the mission report notes insufficient means or time to verify the precise status of the property, the rate of loss seems to have diminished to an extent that Danger Listing does not seem appropriate, even though urgent attention to the problems of the property remain a high priority. Despite noting many conservation problems, the mission report recorded a general positive attitude towards conservation.