El-Sisi warned that the government will deny those who abuse agricultural lands and irrigation facilities access to subsidies on bread and other state services until the violations are removed.
“Six months and these [illegal] bridges will be cleaned up; and if necessary, the army will intervene,” El-Sisi said.
The president made his remarks during the inauguration of the Bahr Al-Baqar Water Treatment Plant — the largest of its kind in the world — in Port Said governorate.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, cabinet ministers, and state officials attended the inauguration ceremony.
“The interior ministry, the governorate and — if needed — the armed forces will ensure that all these violations made over the past 20 or 30 years… are removed in six months,” El-Sisi said.
The president affirmed that violations, “be they on agricultural lands or facilities”, such as canal branches, are no longer acceptable.
“Egypt has allocated EGP 700 billion to secure a decent life for its people, so it will not accept any transgressions on state lands,” El-Sisi added.
“We are racing against time to develop, modernise, and restore the efficiency of our water facilities... Both the state and the people have a role to play in this regard.”
El-Sisi noted that the water flow through the Nile’s Rosetta branch in Lower Egypt was reduced from 80 million cubic metres to 30 million cubic metres due to violations, saying this affects the quantity of water reaching agricultural lands.
“While we line canals and adopt procedures… we will not accept that anyone transgresses on our capabilities and what we do to improve the living conditions of the people,” the president said.
Bahr Al-Baqar and other water-related facilities
The Bahr Al-Baqar Wastewater Treatment Plant inaugurated on Monday 27 September cost EGP 20 billion and has a production capacity of 5.6 million cubic metres per day, Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said.
The pipes used in the wastewater treatment plant were completely manufactured by Egyptians to generate more job opportunities and save hard currency.
Along with the Bahr Al-Baqar plant, El-Sisi also inaugurated, via videoconference, water desalination plants in South Sinai’s cities of Nuweiba, Ras Sedr, Abu Zenima, and Dahab, as well as pumping stations in Port Said and the Delta.
Improving water usage
El-Sisi said the amount of water flowing into Egypt is “not much and will not increase,” so the state has to improve its water usage.
Egypt will have to spend EGP 140 billion on a general project to raise the efficiency of its water usage and reduce the misuse of its water supply, which includes a nationwide sub-project to line Egypt’s canals, he explained.
The state is shouldering EGP 80 billion to line canals spanning a total distance of 20,000-30,000 kilometres, the president said, stressing that farmers will not bear the cost of this project that will serve many Egyptians working in the agricultural sector.
“The project to line the canals is a matter of national security for Egypt,” El-Sisi said.
“The country has to cultivate crops that meet the people’s needs or else it will have to import the needed produce and deplete its hard currency, which will further exhaust the economy.”
The president warned “I will not accept any negative practices. If these were tolerated and ignored in the past, I do not do that. I do not know how to turn a blind eye to these things."
"If I knew how to turn a blind eye to such things, I would have turned a blind eye to what happened in 2011, 2012, and 2013," he added, referring to the turbulent period between 2011 and 2013.
‘Two wars’ in Sinai
El-Sisi said that the state is engaged in “two wars” in Sinai: "a war against terrorism and another for construction."
"The state has carried out land reclamation and implemented development projects in Sinai."
"The Egyptian Armed Forces is entrusted with securing Sinai’s development projects, which the terrorists do not want to happen," he added.
The president said that the state has to spend EGP 160 billion to reclaim 500,000 feddans in Sinai, noting that the reclamation of each feddan costs EGP 300,000.
Additionally, the triple-treated water from the Bahr Al-Baqar plant will be transferred to North Sinai to help in the reclamation of 476,000 feddans.