Housing minister says Warraq Island development carried out 'consensually'

Ahram Online , MENA , Friday 19 Aug 2022

Minister of Housing and Urban Communities Assem El-Gazzar denied reports that Cairo's El-Warraq Island had been forcibly evacuated as part of the government’s plan to develop the 1,295-feddan Nile island, which he said being carried out “consensually."

Housing minister


El-Gazzar made his remarks in a press conference on Thursday, where he responded to news reports that the government had forcibly evacuated the island’s residents over the past two days, saying such reports are just claims by "evil powers."

"The Egyptian state has never followed this method in any of its [development] projects," the minister said during the press conference, noting that the amount of compensation paid so far has reached EGP six billion.

The government has stepped in to develop El-Warraq Island as part of the state's comprehensive plan to develop dangerous areas and slums, he explained.

El-Gazzar said the haphazard urban sprawl on El-Warraq Island over the years resulted in unplanned and unlicensed buildings that led to deterioration of the natural environment around the Nile.

The built-up areas increased to 400 feddans in 2019, up from only 60 feddans in 2016, with farmland accounting for the remaining space, he added, clarifying that the built-up area was not equipped with sewage services, which led to waste being discharged directly into the Nile.

Such environmental degradation has forced the government to step in to stop the encroachment on the banks of the Nile, he explained.

The holders of such lands are offered either compensation to leave their land or alternative agricultural lands outside El-Warraq Island.

The government pays EGP six million per feddan, or offers substitute land in Sadat City, a suburban area outside Cairo, the minister said.

Up to 888 feddans have been bought so far, accounting for nearly 71 percent of the island’s total area at a cost of EGP five billion, the minister said, adding that the sum was directly disbursed to the owners.

As for the residential buildings, he said they were built without a permit and the government has started to deal with them as was the case in other areas that were re-planned nationwide like Maspero, Magra Al-Eyoon, and Rawdat Al-Sayeda.

The government is paying compensation to the owners and renters of the buildings, the housing minister said, adding that the buildings’ residents are given the option to obtain units in new areas or can wait for alternative units in the towers being built in the area.

The government also plans to use 91 feddans of the reclaimed land – of which, 67 feddans have already been evacuated – for the construction of the Tahiya Misr axis.

The 67 feddan had a total of 550 housing units, 330 of which have already been evacuated.

Other parts of the development plan include the re-launch of seven square kilometres of the island as a high-end residential compound carrying the name of Horras Island.

El-Warraq lies opposite Shobra Al-Kheima in the city’s north. It is home to 90,000 people and has three schools, a public hospital, police station, tens of mosques and a church. No bridges connect it to the banks of the river, leaving the islanders to depend on five ferries for movement.

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