Few days ago, authorities in Cairo, Egypt, have come under fire for approving the construction of an “essential” highway bridge in Al-Haram district, right next to several apartment buildings on Nasr El-Din Street.
And if we say “right next to”, we mean that in the most literal sense, as the bridge is just 50 centimetres away from people’s homes. However, in a surprising reply, authorities announced that the bridge had all the necessary permits, and that it was the residential buildings that had been built without a permit. Therefore, an order for their demolition has already been issued.
Mahmoud Nassar, head of the Central Agency for Construction in Egypt, told that the new Teraet Al-Zomor Bridge was a crucial piece of infrastructure and will be useful to the neighborhood. And the people that will be evicted before the demolition of the apartment buildings that currently stand just whiskers away from the bridge will receive a quota of the 250 million Egyptian pounds ($15.8 million) allocated as compensation.
This is an old story, anyway: the bridge, 12 kilometers long and up to 65.5 meters wide, has been protested by neighborhood residents for years, both because of its proximity to apartment buildings, but also because of its height, as it blocks the view of residents living on the first few floors. The owner of one building affected by the bridge construction, Hazem Ezzat Qassem, called those who claimed that the buildings were unlicensed “liars.” He said the buildings were issued licenses from Al-Omranyea in 2008 permitting construction.
Mohamed Fouad, a member of the Egyptian parliament, said that the Teraet Al-Zomor Bridge was constructed in a way that directly affects the road beneath it, put residents in danger due to its proximity to residential buildings, and violated people’s privacy. Still, local authorities seem determined to go through with its construction, calling it an essential part of the urban infrastructure.