Major General Mohamed Abdel-Fadel Shousha is keen to draw attention to the many infrastructural and urban development projects that have been completed or are in progress in the governorate. Entire new cities, including New Rafah, have sprung up because of the efforts to eliminate the random urban development that had proved so conducive to spreading anarchy on both sides of the border between Egypt and Gaza and in other towns and cities in North Sinai such as Beir Al-Abd and Arish.
The planning of the new cities took into account the requirements and culture of the inhabitants of Sinai. In addition to multi-storey apartment buildings, there are separate one-storey homes in Bedouin style and layout, the governor said. New housing has also been allocated for victims of terrorist attacks.
According to Shousha, 2,608 apartments have been built as part of the governorate’s social housing plan. These include 1,440 flats designated for people from Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid cought up in terrorist operations, and 409 Bedouin homes. In New Rafah alone, 626 newly constructed apartment blocks contain 10,000 flats which will soon become available and the governorate has reserved additional plots of land for young people.
Among the infrastructural development projects mentioned by the governor, Al-Ahram Weekly visited four potable water plants constructed in Arish in collaboration with USAID. They include the Risa water plant at the entrance to Arish. In addition, the governorate has built a large plant in central Sinai and one in Sheikh Zuweid.
The reopening of schools is an important indicator of the return to normality. Shousha said that there are now 437 schools in the governorate, all working at full capacity. Progress has also been made in improving pedagogical standards: there is now one teacher for every 11 students. The governorate also boasts 70 youth centres and 20 sporting clubs, and new public spaces include five main squares, including Al-Rifaai Square and a plaza paying homage to the martyrs of the 103rd Brigade.
Shousha spot-lit another dimension of the development drive, the small to medium size enterprises that have been designed to facilitate youth employment. One such venture involves replacing tok-toks with minibuses funded by the governorate in collaboration with the Agricultural Bank.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 21 January, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.