AFRICA/SENEGAL - The cathedral of Ziguinchor risks collapsing; "Why don't the authorities start safety measures?"

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Dakar (Agenzia Fides) - "Since the beginning of March, the roof of our cathedral is falling apart. Part of the church is now closed to the faithful for security reasons. If security measures are not taken in coming days, the cathedral will not see the next rainy season, scheduled in two months", says Fr. Damase Mary Coly, parish priest of the cathedral of Ziguinchor, capital of the Senegalese region of Casamance, in a message sent to the Agenzia Fides. The roof of the Saint Antonio da Padova cathedral partially collapsed in early March. A collapse announced a long time ago because already on February 2 the Bishop of Ziguinchor, His Exc. Mgr. Paul Abel Mamba, had sounded the alarm. Part of the roof collapsed on March 4th. There were no religious services at the time of the collapse, fortunately. "Since that day, access to this space has been forbidden to the faithful for security reasons", says the priest.
The administrative authorities went to the site on March 21 to implement the necessary security measures. However, the exact start date of the reconstruction work on the building remains unknown.
Meanwhile, "the roof continues to collapse. Last Sunday, March 24th, more tiles fell on the ground", said Fr. Bertrand Bassène, the vicar.
"The entire roof of the Cathedral of Saint Antonio da Padova, a historic monument and national heritage, risks collapsing at any time. The diocese of Ziguinchor is on the verge of simply losing its cathedral".
The diocese wonders about the causes of the administrative delays that prevent the start of works to secure the cathedral: "What are the conclusions of the various reports on the state of the building? What really prevents the start of the long-awaited works? Why did the authorities let the faithful continue to pray in a public building, which risks collapsing at any moment? What are we waiting for? A disaster?.It is time for the authorities to take their responsibility regarding this situation", the note concludes. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 28/3/2019)