Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has given a heated speech slamming the widespread illegal construction on agricultural land in the country, which he says has continued despite countermeasures, and threatened to deploy the army if the problem persists.
The president made the comments during an inauguration ceremony for development projects in Alexandria, months after he ordered state officials, including the interior ministry, to hold accountable people who construct buildings illegally.
El-Sisi said that officials should either end the illegal construction or leave their posts.
The president stressed that construction should be under the state’s supervision, and said that he will not stop working to end illegal construction.
He affirmed that all state authorities have a duty to end these violations, adding that, if required, the Egyptian army’s engineering equipment will be used in demolishing illegal structures.
“If necessary, I will order the Egyptian army into all of Egypt’s villages,” El-Sisi stated.
Egypt continues to crack down on illegal building to meet a six-month deadline set by El-Sisi to end violations in the country.
Egypt has seen a significant rise in illegal buildings amid the security vacuum that followed the 2011 uprising. Countless people started constructing multi-storey buildings without acquiring the necessary permits or complying with safety standards.
A large portion of Egypt's 100 million citizens live in clusters of red-brick buildings and informal settlements.
Earlier this month, El-Sisi asked the government to finalise any outstanding issues related to ending violations, reiterating the government’s zero tolerance policy on the matter.
He said that construction will be banned in some neighbourhoods by the end of the six-month period.
Egypt has already banned residential construction in some neighbourhoods in Cairo and Giza governorates and areas that have reached their maximum population density.
According to a 2018 report by the local development ministry, Egypt registered 2 million building violations between 2000 and 2017.
In April, the cabinet said building violations would be referred to military prosecutors under the current emergency law.