- Title: Demolition on the Nile puts squeeze on two Cairo districts
- Date: 28th September 2018
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) BUSINESSMAN AND MASPERO RESIDENT, HISHAM ABU AL-ELA, SAYING: "It all started last Ramadan, we woke up on the first day of Ramadan and found a paper hung on our building informing us we had to evacuate the building within 15 days. We asked what this was about, and we were told that the entire area was given a demolition order to the Maspero triangle. We were aware that the Maspero triangle is this the slum right behind us, but we were shocked when we found they had issued this order and included us with the Maspero triangle as if we too are slums. They ranked us all equally." MOSQUE SEEN FROM WINDOW OF ABU EL-ELA'S APARTMENT CRUMBLED STONE BUILDING AS SEEN FROM ABU EL-ELA'S APARTMENT VIEW OF RUBBLE RESULTING FROM DEMOLITION (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) BUSINESSMAN AND MASPERO RESIDENT, HISHAM ABU AL-ELA, SAYING: "We welcome the development of the country because Egypt is our home and we are for development but give us our rights. We aren't objecting but give us what we deserve, make sure people leave this place happy. These people have lived their whole lives here, and their livelihoods are all in this area, their children's schools, their jobs are all in downtown. Don't wrong them and only give them 60,000 Egyptian Pounds per room, that is not fair, why has there been no fair assessments, where is the justice? There is none. Some people don't have anywhere else to go. If I receive 300,000 Egyptian pounds in compensation for my apartment, will I find another apartment to own with this amount of money? No."
- Reuters ID: LVA0038ZJKDHZ
- Location: CAIRO, EGYPT
- City: CAIRO, EGYPT
- Country: Egypt
- Duration: 00:01:35
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: Hisham Abu el-Ela, a resident of Cairo's Maspero that overlooks the Nile looks outside of his window onto a wasteland of rubble, where the houses of his neighbours were cleared of slum housing earlier this year.
Across the river, impoverished residents of red brick homes on the island of Warraq nervously await their fate after Maspero was bulldozed this summer.
Both areas are earmarked for tourism or business developments, part of efforts by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to attract investment and boost an economy still reeling after Egypt's Arab Spring upheaval of 2011.
Since taking office in 2014, Sisi has sought to transform Cairo; building a new administrative capital on its outskirts and aiming to turn the city centre into an investor's dream.
Glossy magazine adverts make Cairo look more like Dubai, with glitzy tower blocks on the banks of the Nile.
But there is an obstacle to that vision: the people who live there.
Under pressure from former general, Sisi to transform those areas, authorities have either attempted forced evictions or offered compensation in money or property.
Officials say the thousands evacuated are making way for projects that will bring prosperity to all Egyptians, and that some residents will return when development is completed.
Inhabitants are not convinced.
They say their livelihoods, from running shops to farming and fishing, are destroyed as they are forced to move far away, sometimes to isolated desert compounds. They complain of small compensation for vacating prime real estate and believe they will end up worse off.
Warraq has seen the strongest local resistance to evictions. A protester died in clashes last year between residents and security forces who came to demolish homes.
Authorities have since softened their approach, trying to coax people out with offers to buy their land or provide them with apartments at Asmarat, a sprawling housing complex on Cairo's desert outskirts.
Living in Asmarat would put many of the island's inhabitants out of work, they say.
Rights activists say people are being displaced even before projects are finalised and their long-term benefits assessed.
They point to both Warraq and Maspero, an area owned by Egyptian, Saudi and Kuwaiti companies.
Director of Egypt's Informal Settlement Development Fund, a government body, Khaled Saddeek, said Maspero would be a hub for "business, hotels, offices and housing," but declined to elaborate. "The plan is not final yet," he said.
The proprietor companies might develop the area on their own, or jointly with Egyptian authorities - it was not yet clear, depending on which companies decided to "participate in development", he said.
He said that some Maspero evacuees would return after the three years set aside for development, to rent or buy apartments. Under a rent-to-buy system the flats would cost at least 360,000. Buying outright would cost 750,000 pounds.
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- Embargoed:12th October 2018 12:15