Shortly before sunset, the cobble stone roads turn into a kids’ bicycle parcours. Silver shimmers the ocean, golden is the shine on the children’s faces at dusk. Even three-year-old Massoud has got it right today, and happily pedals around without training wheels on his bike. Car drivers are well aware to commute in walking pace only. “Fumba Town radiates quietness and protection the moment you enter here”, says Dr. Winnie John, the new doctor in town who came to settle in the growing African seaside development.
Since coronavirus hit the shores of the Indian Ocean, residents say, the feeling of being safe in Fumba Town has grown even stronger.
“Some new tenants moved here particularly to be out of the hassle and buzzle of the capital”, says project manager Christian Dubiel when he takes visitors around the 150 acres compound stretching out on 1,5 kilometres seafront on the west coast of Zanzibar.
“We always wanted to be resilient”, explains chief developer Sebastian Dietzold. “As it turned out, our eco-friendly planning against climate change also helps very much in a global health crisis.” Waste is recycled by 94 per cent in the urban project with 24/7 clean water, veggie gardens, fruit trees and even a clinic with in-patient facilitie. Unlike in many other urban develoments, especially in Africa, the infrastructure was initiated before the construction of houses began. “Fumba Town was already green when the first homeowners moved in”, says Dietzold. “A forest is better than AC.” Dr. Winnie John agrees: “ I love the papaya in front of my house.”
Only 20 minutes drive away from the capital and the airport, the urban project, projected in 2015, has recently been filling up with life as around 500 of approximately 3000 planned houses, duplexes and apartments have been constructed and the first hundred or so residents moved in. With the corona crisis, the estate was challenged in many ways. “We reacted very early”, says Tobias Dietzold, one of the chief town planners, “we checked everybody at the gates for temperature including
staff.“ Zoom-in conferences became the norm rather than office meetings. Construction workers, catered for on site, starting eating in smaller groups. By end-May no worker had fallen sick.
Homeowners called from afar, eager to take over their houses but unable to sojourn to Zanzibar because of travel restrictions. Emails flocked in of investors, wary about progress, but also of clients suddenly limited in their own
cash flow. “We usually find solutions for everybody”, assures Tobias Dietzold. “The most important is communication.” Units in Fumba Town have been sold to local and international buyers from 50 countries, mostly off-plan and payable in instalments.
The sound of hammering and bulldozers signals progress on the building site – even more so since the outbreak of covid-19. “We never had to stop construction so far”, says Christian Dubiel, “but with worldwide delays in manufacturing and supply we slowed down a bit.” A line of striking white beach houses, all sold, is nearing completion, seven more apartment buildings are on the way. Next on the agenda: the Moyoni complex, a neat cluster of affordable community houses, and more luxurious Bustani villas.
Meanwhile Frank Goehse, head of landscaping and responsible for Fumba’s vast green allure, feeds the chicken happily cackling around in his permaculture centre, providing valuable manure and eggs. “Becoming sustainable is the key”, says Goehse. “The coronavirus reminds us to design cities that can survive on their own.”