Letters: 14th July, 2019

Should the current rate of deterioration continue probably in the near future this historical town will be only found in the pages of our history books.
14 Jul 2019 14:48
Letters: 14th July, 2019

Levuka buildings

Satish Nakched, Suva

Last month during the Construction Industry Council meeting the Attorney-General highlighted the dirty conditions of the buildings in the Capital City’s Central Business Disrict.

This later generated interesting discussion where the Suva Retailers Association tried to defend and justify their claims and probably were not impressive in their explanation.

This was a major news item covered by the media and some radio stations elevated this issue through their talk back programmes.

The A-Gs statement acted as a catalyst and initiated many to over drive the motion in order to comply with the directive.

It was also interesting to note that there was a visit by the Singapore experts to advise on the transformation of Fiji’s urban centres into a more modern, efficient and environment friendly place to do business.

In the last Budget there was an investment allowance of 25 per cent given under the Income Tax incentive for the renovation of a building and the threshold was reduced to $250,000 from one million but is available to commercial buildings in towns and cities.

I believe while all this assistance is available, our historic town of Levuka still continues to decay.

There are a total of 1,073 World Heritage Sites listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as having special cultural or physical significance.

To be considered of universal interest a site must meet the selection criteria produced by UNESCO.

Many important places are rejected because they do not meet the selection criteria set.

And there are many more who have applied and are waiting for a decision to join this august group. Levuka is part of the group.

The historic port of Levuka was designated a world heritage site in 2013.

However, it is noted with disappointment that very little improvement was done to the structure of the buildings which have badly deteriorated.

This may be because as the building owners say: “Very expensive to repair the existing structures in its original form in order to restore its uniqueness.”

It is easy to completely build a new building than carry on the repair and maintenance of these pieces of history.

Apart from the buildings there are other important spots such as the water fountains and the tram track that need attention.

Should the current rate of deterioration continue probably in the near future this historical town will be only found in the pages of our history books.

Levuka Town itself is a living museum and must be restored to its former glory.

This cultural heritage is among the priceless and irreplaceable possessions, not only for Fiji, but also for mankind as a whole.

Parts of this heritage, because of their exceptional qualities, can be considered to be of outstanding universal value.

As such they are worthy of special protection against the dangers, which increasingly threaten it through wear and tear.

The World Heritage Convention aims to promote cooperation among nations to protect heritage sites from around the world.

We in Fiji must work within such a framework to prevent the Old Capital from disappearing forever.

Levuka has put Fiji on the world historical map and should undergo continuous repair and maintenance work to maintain its status as a world heritage site.



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