President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that solving the unplanned building dilemma in Egypt requires a total cost of around EGP 3-4 trillion, adding that the latest issues of Alexandria's leaning building and Giza's smouldering building are results of the haphazard construction across the country.
"The reconciliation law over building violations was enacted three years back with the aim of shedding light on the problem," President El-Sisi said in a phone interview with MBC Masr satellite channel on Saturday.
Over the past few decades, Egypt has seen a continuous increase in haphazard and unlicensed construction across its cities and villages, with these structures constituting 70 percent of the urban clusters by the year 2011, as according to Egyptian officials.
The problem surged noticeably amid the security vacuum that followed the 2011 uprising, with many people constructing multi-storey buildings without acquiring the necessary permits or complying with safety standards.
Last year, El-Sisi ratified a law allowing settlement with the state over building violations, with the exception of those pertaining to safety standards, authorised height or purpose, historic buildings, as well as others.
Last week, a Huge fire leapt into a 14-storey unlicensed building in Giza, having erupted at a shoe and leather store on the ground floor. Days later, photos were shared online showing a leaning building in Alexandria.
The problem of construction violations has floated up to the surface on the back of both incidents.
During the phone interview, El-Sisi said the unplanned structures are constituting around 40 to 50 percent in Egypt.
"If we have 100 thousand [building] violations in Alexandria, I can’t evacuate [dewellers] because if [I did so] I will need at least one million apartments [to accommodate them]," El-Sisi explained.
The president also underscored that unplanned construction is one of the results of the random growth of the population.
Egypt is pushing forward efforts to put an end to unplanned building through providing the number of required buildings, but people should pay attention to overpopulation, he noted.
Vaccination campaign developments
El-Sisi also spoke about the situation of the country's vaccination campaign against coronavirus, saying "we study all issues scientifically."
He added that the first segment of the country's vaccination priority list, comprising frontline healthcare workers, people with chronic diseases, and seniors, involves up to 30 to 35 million citizens.
The figure requires about 70 million doses of the vaccine, El-Sisi said, while assuring that the fund for this amount is available.
Egypt has obtained a 50,000-dose batch of the Chinese vaccine and the same amount of the British vaccine. The country is waiting for additional batches.
Egypt has begun since the last week of January administering the first dose of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine to the frontline healthcare workers at isolation and triage hospitals. It also plans to start administering the British Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine starting mid-February to people over 60.
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said the country is committed to the negotiations path in settling the dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
“All Egyptians are concerned about this file and this is a legitimate and deserved concern, but we always move through the framework of negotiations, we are fighting by negotiations and patience to preserve Egypt's rights in this file,” President El-Sisi pointed out.
“I am not saying [whether] things are moving or not, but I am saying [that] this is the path through which we are moving,” he added.
El-Sisi assured that there have been other measures taken by the state, in parallel with the path of negotiations, aiming to reduce wasting water, highlighting a number of projects of wastewater recycling and lining irrigation canals.
Egypt has been expanding its desalination projects in recent years in light of its concerns about water scarcity amid the increase in population.
"We will reach a result by negotiations and patience,” El-Sisi mentioned.
Negotiations over the controversial project that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, a tributary of the Nile, has entered its tenth year, though it keeps hitting a deadlock, with growing fears that the dam will affect the downstream countries' share of water.
Egypt’s 100 million-plus population relies on the River Nile for more than 95 percent of its renewable water resources. It fears the $4.8 billion hydropower near-complete project will significantly diminish its crucial water supply, which is already below scarcity level.
"The external situation is always related to the internal ones." El-Sisi responded to a question about the country's regional role. "The power of Egypt does not stem from me, nor my administration but rather from the people of Egypt," he added.
The president also said that Cairo is aiming to achieve peace and stability with in the regions, which he said was heavily clobbered.
"The situation in Libya is improving," he added, noting that Egypt is supporting the recently-selected interim government in Libya, which he deemed "a step in the right direction."
"We will communicate and cooperate with them in order to restore Libya," he added.
El-Sisi also assured that Egypt is coordinating invariably with other countries, whether in the Gulf or Libya, with the aim of finding solutions to the existing crises.