CAIRO – 16 October 2021: Issues of overpopulation and encroachment on agricultural lands, and lack of awareness were explicitly addressed by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi during the inaugural ceremony of a number of housing unit projects as part of the state’s program of eradicating slum areas nationwide.
President Sisi witnessed the inauguration of 13,800 housing units, including 11,300 housing units for 65,000 citizens who were living in unsafe areas. The government, in cooperation with the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces, has 11 projects of building 210 housing units for 1.1 million people.
Egypt’s Armed Forces implemented one million housing units to develop slum areas, at a cost of EGP 635 billion, said Head of the Armed Forces Engineering Authority.
“What you see is just half of what Egypt should be,” said President Sisi, wondering why are people satisfied with houses built with only bricks and don’t dream of better and well-constructed ones in their country.
President Sisi affirmed that the government is carrying out such development projects in accordance with a planned program, but he said that he “is dreaming of building new 3-5 million housing units for 15 million people.”
Addressing the government, President Sisi said that launching a larger program of replacing the old places with new ones to eradicate the problem of the slums is required to change people’s lives. “This program was written 50 years ago and we would complete it within 5 years,” he said.
“We must offer services and allocate places for craftsmen to create job opportunities [in the newly-developed areas],” said President Sisi. During the conference, Minister of Social Solidarity Neven El Kabbag said that the real challenge is to find suitable job opportunities for irregular workers.
He added that citizens’ privacy is being considered when it comes to building the new housing units which are being funded from Egyptians’ money.
Impacts of increasing rate of population on development
The construction of new housing units is closely associated with the increasing rate of population in Egypt, President Sisi said, adding “the development national projects would have been better if we had not had these increasing population rates.”
In a previous comment to President Sisi, he said that 20 million people have been added to the population since 2010. Also, the population will reach 190 million by 2050 in the event of the current population growth, said Director of the Planning Ministry’s demographic center Amira Tawadros in early August 2021.
One of the main issues that President Sisi tackled at the Saturday conference is that encroachment on agricultural lands via building on them. “Encroachment on agricultural lands via building is an issue of the state,” he said.
“The number of violators who reconciled with government reached 2.8 million…No country in the world has this number of violations…We have to care about our country,” he added.
“We can overcome any problem only in case of cooperation between the state’s bodies and citizens,” the President said. He emphasized that promoting awareness among citizens is the most important element to end the issue of unplanned construction on agricultural lands.
President Sisi also said that the newly-built villages that have animal barns are separated from homes to ensure a healthy life for citizens.
Commenting on the building of new cities for the middle and upper classes, President Sisi said “when the new cities like the administrative capital were established, a campaign of [smearing] was launched by the prejudiced people who seek to spread skepticism and mistrust.”
“Do you still see us interested only in [developing the life of] the middle class [after replacing the old unsafe housing units with well-structured ones in slum areas]?” President Sisi said.
Inaccurate digitizing means inaccurate reality
President Sisi also tackled the inaccuracy of digitizing, saying “the absence or inaccuracy of digitizing made us unable to see well. This led to the stability of an inaccurate reality and an absence of eradicating corruption.”
President Sisi added that the state has to classify the society’s brackets accurately in order to give people their rights.
Regarding the issue of garbage, President Sisi said that the annual volume of waste and garbage reaches 40 million tons, saying “we need a good cleaning program.”
Fees for collecting garbage from all apartments and shops across Egypt reach EGP 800 million annually, President Sisi said, adding “when we talked with cleaning companies for [on only the areas cover] western and eastern neighborhoods in Cairo, we found that the cost would reach about LE 2.5 billion.”
As for the subsidized system, President Sisi clarified that the only goal of reorganizing the system subsidies is to save money.
The government has allocated EGP 180 billion to nine pensioners every year for over 30 years.
One of the most notable projects inaugurated by Sisi is Ahalina 2 (Our people) project. It includes 34 housing units on an area of 15 acres, at a cost of about EGP 1.1 billion. President Sisi also witnessed the inauguration of housing unit projects like Rewaysat city in Sharm Al Shiekh, El Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood in Cairo.