Egypt’s Administrative Prosecution orders swift referral of building violators to disciplinary trial

Amr Kandil , Wednesday 10 Feb 2021

The decision comes amid the state’s effort to end building violations by imposing fines on violators willing to reconcile with the state

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 Administrative Prosecution Authority ordered on Wednesday the referral of cases of building violations and encroachment on state properties to urgent disciplinary trials.

The administrative prosecution requested a detailed report on all cases related to building violations or encroachment on state lands in 2020.

The decision comes amid the state’s effort to end building violations by imposing fines on violators willing to reconcile with the state and banning the construction of further unlicensed buildings.

Buildings constructed after 2017 or those that do not meet safety and engineering standards are not included in the reconciliation law, and hence, they are subject to measures that can reach demolition in some cases.

Late in December, the Local Development Ministry said that more than 2.5 million reconciliation requests have been submitted.

The Administrative Prosecution’s order comes “in light of the notable spread of building violations and incidents that recently took place,” the prosecution said in a statement.

It added that these recent incidents “have affirmed the necessity to face this phenomenon with decisive measures, with the aim of eliminating it for the imminent threat it poses on the lives and properties of citizens and on economic and social security.”

This comes days after a 13-storey building in Giza was the site of a fire that lasted several days, and another tall building in Alexandria was seen leaning onto another. Officials have affirmed that the two buildings were unlicensed. They were both permanently evacuated.

The prosecution’s order to refer the cases to disciplinary trials can only be applied on employees at the state’s administrative apparatus.

This comes months after Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said in a press conference that hundreds of employees were referred to the prosecution for being involved in the violations. A judicial source said in press remarks that district employees were referred to the administrative prosecution for facilitating encroachments on state lands.

Alternatives to demolition

In a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Madbouly said the state is working to finish developing unsafe areas and housing their residents, assuring that the state would not demolish these areas.

Madbouly said illegally constructed buildings in Egypt represent around 45 percent to 50 percent of the total buildings.

“The removal of all these areas, which are packed with millions of residents, is a matter of severe difficulty and high cost,” a statement by the Cabinet cited Madbouly as saying.

Madbouly added that the intervention required for these areas includes establishing roads there.

Buildings will not be removed as long as they are habitable, Madbouly said, adding that new roads would be built instead to allow residents to move freely in or out of these areas.

The premier said the state is working on building new cities to provide citizens with safe and planned housing units, where comprehensive services are provided, and to stop unplanned, illegal construction, including on agricultural land.

Madbouly said it is more expensive to intervene and develop these unplanned areas than to build new ones.

He also referred to the two buildings in Giza and Alexandria that made recent headlines as an example of the consequences of illegal construction, stressing that local residents are the ones affected the most by this phenomenon.

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