A centuries old monument which attracts thousands of both domestic and foreign tourists annually to the Kenya Coastal resort town of Malindi, 150 kilometres North of Mombasa, is in danger of collapsing.
Environmentalists said if the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) does not act urgently to repair its damaged coral foundation and stem the corrosion of the coral base which is being eroded by strong sea tidal waves at an alarming rate, the Vasco da Gama pillar will be washed away in five years
The chairman of the Malindi Green town Movement, Godfrey Karume, said the base of the pillar, built by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1498, had been eroded by tidal waves from the south-eastern monsoon over the years.
He said it was only a matter of time before it collapses “as only a small strip of the once 20 meter radius sea feature remains”.
“As a result of being under siege from the adamant and relentless sea waves, the coral rock is hanging precariously while it is cracked in the middle, exposing the national monument to susceptibility of the vagaries of the weather,” Karume complained on Sunday.
“The pillar, which is an important landmark and a strong reminder of the role of Malindi in the history of the east African regions’ trade ties with the Arab and Portuguese hundreds of centuries ago, should be repaired as a mater of urgency,” he added.
He called on the NMK to place concrete boulders on the southern side of the sea to reduce the speed of the tidal waves, which had ”eaten away” the monument’s base.
The environmental lobbyist observed that other architectural interventions should be employed to arrest the erosion of the once formidable coral base “so that the rich history of Malindi is not lost with the collapse of the all important national monument”.
He also told the NMK to come clean on rumours that there were plans to ”relocate” the pillar to another locality.
The rumours, Karume noted, were creating anxiety among conservationists and tourism stakeholders, as it would dent the pivotal role of Malindi in the history of the cross sea trade of the 13th and 14th centuries.
He said a possible relocation of the monument would also deny tourists an important part of the menu offered for hundreds of years by the coastal resort.