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Known locally as “Ye Bego Adragot Hintsa,” the building is a historic old building located near the National Theater in the heart of the city of Addis Abeba

Liyat Fekade

Addis Abeba, August 13/2018 – Addis Abeba city mayor’s office formed a committee comprised of officials from the city’s culture and tourism bureau, private individuals and officials from the Addis Abeba city administration to “inquire and explore ways of sparing” from being demolished, Addis Standard learned.

Last week a news bulletin by Sheger FM 102 reported the impending demolition of the building, known locally as “Ye Bego Adragot Hintsa.” a historic old building located near the National Theater in the heart of the city of Addis Abeba, for private development projects. The news was met by a collective online objection mainly from residents of the city who expressed their concerns that the decision to demolish the building will deprive the city of one of its historical heritages.

Following the reactions, newly appointed mayor of the city, Takele Uma Banti, tweeted on Saturday: “we came short of promoting and marketing our city’s beauty and old city’s culture.” However the mayor didn’t provide further information. Following the tweet Addis Standard attempted to get more information and learned that “the mayor has formed the committee to look into all angles of arguments including legal options to see if the city administration could spare the demolition of the building,”according to one member of the committee who didn’t want to be mentioned by name. “It is part of a new plan being developed by the city administration to preserve the city’s historic landmarks to develop  a sustainable tourism industry without affecting the residents of the city,” he added.

The building was built in mid 1930s by then Italian occupying forces. It is believed that the building originally housed a mall and other administrative quarters in its early days. However, through time, the building also became home to about 60 residential households, according to Sheger FM.  But beyond providing housing, it is also recognized as a meeting point to the young and old residents of the city who use the cafes, bars and restaurants inside the building as a meeting place to socialize and read newspapers. The residents of the building told Sheger FM that since the news of its demolition first surfaced five years ago following the privatization of the entire building to an individual, they have been living in limbo, unable to renew their houses. Addis Standard learned that the building was bought by a a private investor who also owns the near by Ethiopia Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in the city which was renovated recently.

Kirkos Kifle Ketema land management office, which has the woreda jurisdiction of the area, said the demolishing of the building was decided by the city’s former cabinet and that wereda office was acting to enforce the decision by the former city cabinet.

On Friday August 10, the city council has approved list of its new cabinet members forwarded by the new mayor. AS

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