Representatives are divided over plans to demolish the ‘historical’ Vikokotoni Primary School to pave the way for Zanzibar business centre, also dubbed as ‘Darajani corridor’.
During the debate that lasted for about an hour, the government defended its decision, saying that the project will create employment and beautify the island. Reading the government statement on the decision, Second Vice-President, Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi insisted that the move came after consulting various stakeholders.
He noted that the project is carried out with good intentions. He urged for ‘blessings’ from members of the house and the general public at large. “After discussions which involved multiple stakeholders; environmentalists, planners and other experts we concluded that the project should be implemented as it will benefit most of the citizens,” he said.
Among schools that will be affected with the project are Vikokotoni and Darajani which are among world heritage sites under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage centres, most members raised their concerns over contract breach.
Ambassador Iddi, however, cleared the doubt saying that consultation is going on with UNESCO and students will not be affected as they will be shifted to a new and modern school that will be constructed at Rahaleo area.
Minister of State, President’s Office, Regional Administration, Local Government and Special Departments, Mr Haji Omar Kheri chipped in and said the school shift is important considering the school was in ‘unfriendly’ studying environment as it was surrounded by shops and business activities.
He said it is important to protect heritage centres, and at the same time development projects must be carried out.
Chairperson of the construction and communication house committee and other outspoken backbenchers were against ‘closure’ of the schools saying the move was against UNESCO’s heritage centres protection agreement and that the demolishing exercise will result to over population to neighboring schools, hence jeopardize quality of education.