Egypt's Sisi urges tougher penalties for illegal constructions

Ahram Online , Thursday 21 May 2020

File photo:A taxi moves past blocks of houses that were built illegally and destroyed by the government, behind the Supreme Constitutional Court in Maadi, south of Cairo, REUTERS

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said building violations are more dangerous than terrorism, calling on authorities to toughen penalties against violators.

Egypt has seen a significant rise in illegal buildings amid the security vacuum that followed the 2011 uprising.

Several people started constructing multi-storey buildings without acquiring the necessary permits or complying with safety standards.

Many of the country’s 100 million population live in clusters of red-brick buildings and informal settlements.

"We are not going to chase slums forever, this should end. We draw the line and start over,” El-Sisi stated.

He said in a televised conference during the inauguration of the Bashayer El-Kheir 3 housing project in Alexandria on Thursday.

“We are fighting terrorism. This is a form more dangerous than terrorism,” El-Sisi said, adding that corruption and destructing the country are “worse” than terrorism.

He called for bringing to justice those who construct unlicensed buildings, saying legislative reforms to toughen penalties should be introduced if needed.

Fighting building violations should be a top priority for security chiefs and governors, he added.

In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, home to a large number of illegal constructions, over 132,000 building violations were recorded between January 2011 and December 2019, local development minister Mahmoud Sharaawi said at the conference. Violations registered since the beginning of 2020 stand at 1,773, he added.

According to a 2018 report by the local development ministry, Egypt registered two 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.

Earlier this year, El-Sisi ratified a law allowing reaching a settlement with the state over building violations, save for those pertaining to safety standards, authorised height or purpose, historic buildings, and others.  

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