A general view of some buildings in Cairo, Egypt. Reuters
The new reconciliation draft law increases the range of cases in which citizens can reach settlements with the state over building violations by paying fees. The new law allows for settlements in more cases than those stipulated by the former law. The only exception being cases pertaining to violations of safety standards.
Under the new law, citizens who had missed the first deadline of submitting reconciliation requests to the government – which under the old law had expired on March 2021 but was extended several times – will now be allowed to settle their building violations.
The draft law will be sent to parliament for discussion and approval within days, MP Ahmed El-Segeny, head of the House of Representatives’ Local Administration committee said on TV.
The new law aims to help the government resume processing almost 2.8 million reconciliation requests submitted by citizens under the annulled law, El-Segeny added.
The new law will resolve the problems posed by the annulled law, El-Segeny noted, affirming that it will provide citizens with opportunities to deal with any issues related to buildings for which they have submitted reconciliation requests.
The government has so far collected around EGP 22.5 billion from citizens who submitted reconciliation requests under the old law, El-Segeny said. He added that this amount accounts for only 25 percent of the total amount of money due to the government from all the violators who submitted reconciliation requests.
Under the new draft law, the state may reconcile with citizens regarding building violations on state-owned lands and lands located beyond urban spaces.
The new draft law also gives the opportunity for citizens to reconcile with the state on buildings that exceed the limitations on height imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority as long as these buildings do not affect air traffic and as long as their proprietors obtain the approval of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Owners of buildings violating state defence requirements will need to get an approval from the Ministry of Defence for reconciliation, the new draft law stipulates.
The draft law allows reconciliation on buildings that violate the urban regulatory lines in the event of obtaining approval from the relevant administrative authority.
Violations in buildings of distinguished architectural style and inside areas designated as of special value by the Supreme Council for Planning and Urban Development (SCPUD) can also be settled with the approval of the National Organisation for Urban Harmony.
Unlike the old law, the new draft law also enables reconciliation in case of changing the use of areas whose detailed use had been determined by the relevant administrative authority. However, that authority has to approve the reconciliation.
Consequently, changes in the uses of parking garages, which have been designated by the state as a matter of national security, can also be reconciled.
On the other hand, the law bans reconciliation in buildings that fail to abide by structural safety standards and buildings constructed on lands that are subject to the laws safeguarding antiquities and protecting the Nile River.
However, in case violations prove impossible or extremely hard to tackle, or in case there is no possibility of processing the necessary paperwork, reconciliations can be brought about following approval by the Cabinet.
In these cases, reconciliations will proceed according to the terms and conditions set by the Cabinet, including paying fees per metre that are three times higher than in other building violations stipulated by the draft law’s provisions.
The draft law specifies the procedures for forming technical committees concerned with making decisions on reconciliation requests, as well as the committee’s terms of reference, the way of determining the reconciliation fees, and procedures for raising a grievance against the committees’ decisions.
Combating illegal construction
The parliament passed the 2019 law with officials stating that unplanned buildings constitute about 50 percent of the urban clusters in villages and cities countrywide.
The country has seen a significant rise in illegal construction since the security vacuum that followed the 2011 uprising, with many people constructing multi-storey buildings without acquiring the necessary permits or complying with engineering safety standards.
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and the government have also stressed resolute measures to stop building violations on agricultural land nationwide.
Late in 2020, El-Sisi slammed building violations on agricultural land in a heated speech and warned that he would deploy the army if the problem persists.
In September of the same year, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said Egypt has lost up to 400,000 agricultural feddans since 1980 to building violations and land encroachments.