File Photo: A woman walk down Sheikh Mohamed El-Qassem’s alley in Cairo's Maspero triangle, where over the past few years several buildings have collapsed (Photo: Randa Ali)
Laila Iskander, Egypt's Minister of State for Urban Renewal and Informal Settlements, has said that there will be no forced evictions of local residents in the Maspero Triangle, following statements by Cairo Governor Galal Saeed saying the opposite earlier this week.
In statements made to local TV channel CBC Extra while visiting the area surrounding the bombed Italian Consulate earlier this week , Governor Saeed spoke about "eventual" evication of local residents out of the Maspero Triangle area in order to continue urban development plans.
"People are extremely angry after hearing those statements. They even considered suing Cairo govrnorate," Mahmoud Shaaban, a member of the Maspero Association to Defend the Land and the Right for Housing, told Ahram Online.
Shaaban said that representatives of local residents of Maspero met with Minister Iskander Tuesday to discuss with her the governor's statements and she assured them that there would be no forced evictions.
"The minister said there will be no forced evictions and that there will be only temporary, partial and gradual evictions of local residents in the triangle, till new houses and units are built there replacing our old homes." He added saying Iskander made it clear that her ministry was the only official entity involved when it comes to the Maspero development plans.
"She also told us that the Cairo governor did not mean the whole area of Maspero Triangle, and that he meant only the residents of the severly damaged houses besides the Italian Consulate," Shaaban added.
Currently there are up to 54 houses in the area that are being restored by the government after sustaining damage in the Italian Consulate bombing last week.
The dispute over the 74 feddans (approximately 77 acres) Maspero Triangle goes back three decades at least, when development projects began to be proposed and Gulf investors began to acquire buildings and blocks of land in the area.
The majority of local residents in the triangle, in the heart of Cairo, rejected leaving their homes in lieu of compensation, insisting on living there.
Recently a number of NGOs, including Madd Platform, helped local residents reach agreement with the Ministry of Urban Development as well Cairo governorate and investors over the future of the area, whereby local reisdents will continue to reside in new houses that are to be built.
There are at least 18,000 people currently living in the Maspero Triangle area.
When the Italian Consulate in Downtown Cairo was bombed earlier in July one Egyptian street vendor was killed and several others injured.
The Islamic State's affiliated group in Egypt, Sinai Province, claimed responsibility for the bombing in a statement published on social media sites.