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Egypt will soon be free of unsafe areas… So are the slums really over?

Cairo – Egypt says that it is close to declaring it free of unsafe slums by the end of this year, after years of working on one of the most thorny files, in which the government found itself face to face with the angry residents of those areas who refused to leave.

Under the title “The New Republic… Free from Unplanned Areas”, the Cabinet’s Media Center published a report in which it confirmed that Egypt will be free of informal areas by the end of 2021, and of unplanned areas in 2030, as part of efforts to provide safe and decent housing for all Egyptians.

The report indicated that 1.2 million citizens benefited from the development of unsafe areas, which numbered 357 areas in 25 governorates, with a total of 246 thousand housing units, at a cost of 63 billion pounds (4 billion dollars), which is the cost of projects and the estimated value of the land, according to the government report.

Ongoing crisis and multiple attempts

At first glance, some may think that this announcement means the final elimination of slums in Egypt, but the report focuses in fact on a specific angle that is “unsafe areas”, not all slums, noting that there are larger slum areas, which he describes as “unplanned” areas. “.

Also, the slums resulting from building violations inside the cities seem to be immutable, according to specialists who spoke to Al Jazeera Net, because they have become part of the shape of those cities.

The state’s project to eliminate unsafe slum areas goes back to a date beyond 2015, when dozens were killed by the collapse of a huge mountain rock in the slum area of ​​Al-Duwaiqa in Cairo. Republican Decree No. 305 of 2008 Concerning the establishment of the “Informal Area Development Fund”, the fund aims to inventory, develop and develop slums, develop the necessary plan for urban planning, and provide them with basic utilities.

At that time, the government followed the decision of the Unified Building Law, Law No. 119 of 2008, which regulates construction work and the preservation of real estate wealth. Article 62 included the prohibition of extending utilities to unofficial buildings, except after depositing a certificate of validity of the building and its facilities for occupancy with the administrative authority concerned with planning and organizing affairs.

unplanned areas

In terms of unplanned areas, the government report stated that the state is scheduled to end random markets and unplanned areas in 2030, as the total area of ​​unplanned areas for the capitals of governorate cities is 152 thousand feddans (one feddan equals 4,000 square meters), and the cost of raising efficiency is estimated. The infrastructure has about 318 billion pounds (a dollar equals about 15.7 pounds).

As for the random markets, the report indicated that their total number is 1105 markets, including 306.3 thousand units of sale, and the estimated development cost is 44 billion pounds (about 2.8 billion dollars).

The report quoted the World Bank as categorizing Egypt in the “slum population as a percentage of urban population” index as one of the 13th lowest in the world, reviewing Egypt’s development in this index since its issuance, as it recorded 5.2% in 2018, 10.6% in 2014, and 13. 1% in 2010, 17.1% in 2005, and 28.1% in 2000, while the highest percentage was 50.2% in 1990.

Why do residents reject government alternatives?

However, the state’s efforts faced resistance and popular rejection from the residents of many of these slums, which were characterized by violence for various reasons, according to Amir Mahfouz, a resident of the Nazlet al-Samman area at the bottom of the pyramids area in Giza, where demolitions continue in full swing, as the reasons for refusal are related to a lack of transparency, and a lack of Trust in the government and its promises.

Mahfouz added to Al Jazeera Net that there are other reasons related to the people’s refusal to leave their places, as they are strategic areas that the government wants to exploit and build large investment projects in their place, as in the Maspero Triangle area, Al-Warraq Island in Cairo and Nazlet Al-Samman in Giza, and not, as you say, that this is in order to provide adequate housing, according to recipe.

In addition to the association of the residents of those areas – and the hadith is still preserved – with their family history, their work and their jobs, which is not available in the new places that seem remote, strange and dry, although in the future they may be the best for their children.

But Professor of Urban Planning at Cairo University Abbas Al-Zafarani believes that the priority is always the lives of citizens when developing unsafe areas, pointing to the need to change the lifestyle of citizens from housing, workplace and others, especially since slums include a strong relationship between housing and work.

sticking points

The most controversial point in the process of moving residents of those areas to alternative places was the issue of “ownership.” In some areas, the choice was limited to 5 alternatives, 3 of which allow staying with a monthly payment of money to rent or own a housing unit in the area after its development, while the other two options They are receiving financial compensation and leaving the area, or moving to new places of residence.

With regard to the Nazlet al-Samman area, which overlooks the pyramids of Giza, and which the government vacated for tourism development, the head of the Slum Development Fund, Khaled Siddiq, says – in press statements – that the authorities are moving residents to apartments under the usufruct system with the aim of being a system similar to the old rent system that prevails in a large proportion in The whole area, explaining that the usufruct grants the residents the right to reside for two generations, that is, for the life of the resident and then his heir.

trail of imagination

For his part, Hossam El-Shazly, visiting professor of change management and strategic planning at the Institutional University of Cambridge in Switzerland, says that “there is no doubt that modern urban planning and the removal of slums and their replacement with housing units is something that has begun to happen and cannot be ignored.”

But the Egyptian academic living abroad added, “But the truth is that talking about the end of slums and unplanned areas is an unrealistic fantasy. The slums throughout Egyptian cities represented places for the settlement of millions of families who were displaced from Upper Egypt and the Egyptian countryside.”

Al-Shazly added to Al-Jazeera Net, “Therefore, when the regime comes today and seizes these codified properties, most of them by the law of hand squatting, and replaces them with narrow housing units in installments, this represents a decline in the quality of life, a waste of resources and the outcome of many years of hard work for citizens, so they prefer to stay over leaving.”

Al-Shazly considered that the regime’s statements regarding slums are just another piece of macroeconomic paper that seeks to send false messages to international institutions, with the aim of justifying continuous borrowing and searching for new loans that are spent away from the priorities of the Renaissance, industry, education, transportation and health, and away from the lives of Egyptians, according to his expression.

The amount of real estate violations

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi revealed, during the opening of alternative housing projects for unsafe areas, in mid-October, that what ranges between (30-40%) of the area of ​​buildings erected in Egypt is the result of encroachments and not planned buildings, and that their accumulation led to Exacerbation of the slum crisis.

Al-Sisi added that the buildings built on agricultural lands are a defect of citizens in the first place, because localities cannot alone face the massive encroachment race on agricultural lands, he said, noting that the volume of building violations that were monitored in the past three and a half years amounted to 2.8 million violations. He stressed that this issue is not an issue of a president or a government, but rather an issue of the state and the people.

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Reference-www.aljazeera.net

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