A still image of Minister of Housing Assem El -Gazzar as he speaks during the inauguration of a series of national housing and roads projects in Giza on Wednesday 2 March, 2022. Photo courtesy of CBC extra news.
Because of many years of unplanned urban expansion, green and open areas in Cairo and Giza have dwindled and the rates of random construction went up at the expense of road space, which declined to less than 20 percent of the total space in both governorates.
The minister made the remarks during the inauguration of a number of national housing and road projects in Sheikh Zayed City and 6 October, which was attended by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
El-Gazzar said that traffic congestion results in overcrowding and more carbon emissions, doubling the time taken in daily road trips and reducing the average speed on traffic axes to 30km/hour.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said that if Cairo continues on this trajectory, it will be considered a “dead city”, where the speed on main roads will drop to less than 10km/hour, making it an urban environment that is inadequate for business and living, the minister said.
The housing minister said that his ministry has identified targets to develop the urban environment and improve quality of life, including reducing the population density in Cairo by half.
This can be achieved by building more new urban communities and changing the current urban planning system, El-Gazzar noted.
The minister said that the construction rate is targeted to drop by 50 percent, and his ministry has therefore set new planning and building requirements to ensure sound urban planning in Cairo.
The housing ministry is working to increase the road space to 30 percent of the urban area, as well as to renovate roads, he added.
The minister said that while the state is capable of building many new cities, the challenge lies in promoting the culture of relocation, which is being addressed by increasing incentives for relocation to new urban communities.
Eight new additional cities have been founded since 2014, including two in the east and four in the west, El-Gazzar said.
El-Gazzar said the ministry has pumped investments of EGP 400 billion in these new urban communities.
The minister said that the fourth-generation cities east of Cairo can now accommodate 5.8 million people, up from 3.1 million, and new cities west of Cairo can accommodate 2.5 million people, up from 1.3 million.
The new cities are targeted to accommodate 12 million people in the eastern region and 5 million people in the west, he added.
The housing minister said the country is expanding westward and eastward, noting that the urban expansion in the eastern region aims to serve the cities of eastern Port Said, New Ismailia, New Suez and New Galala. The western region’s urban expansion aims to serve the cities of Sadat, Nubaria and New Nubaria, in addition to the new Delta project and El-Alamein and Ras El-Hekma cities.
The total investments in the western region’s urban expansion are EGP 130 billion, he added.