The ashwa’yat (informal housing areas) located in the Al-Doweiqa area of southeast Cairo have seen their fair share of hazards. The area is prone to rockslides, which are often deadly and crush the poorly built housing infrastructures in their path.
The heavily populated area, full of residents who live in constant fear of another rock slide, like the one in 2008 that killed over 100 people, has become the target of the Tahya Misr Fund.
The Tahya Misr Fund is an initiative launched by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi after he became president in 2014. His goal for the fund was to be able to service the poor, the sick, and marginalised people in Egyptian society with donations from Egyptians and businesses.
According to the fund, Al-Doweiqa is one of 351 unsafe areas in the Greater Cairo area. With help from donations sent to the fund, Tahya Misr aimed to create safer housing units in Al-Doweiqa in order to protect the area’s inhabitants.
Al-Sisi said that the removal of the ashwa’yat from the area and the resettlement of residents would cost an estimated EGP 14bn ($1.58bn), and called on the Egyptians to contribute to the projects.
The president wants to use the fund to create Al Asmarat City, which is located in the Mokattam District.
The project is divided into three phases, of which the fund has completed the first and second. The first phase included the construction of 6,156 units, and the second phase included the construction of 4,600 units at a cost of EGP 1.2bn, which is expected to be ready by the end of June.
The fund has already initiated work on the third phase, which is expected to be completed within a year. This last phase will include the construction of 5,444 units on an area of 260 acres at a cost of EGP 700m, according to the executive director of the fund Mohamed Ashmawy.
Ashmawy previously told Daily News Egypt that the city is designed for the resettlement of citizens who live in informal and dangerous areas, such as Al-Doweiqa. The fund has already built 8,500 housing units in Al Asmarat City, which will include all necessary services.
By building Al Asmarat City, the fund hopes to develop a fully serviced 16,200-unit city in a privileged area in southern Moqattam, located between Moqattam, Nasr City, Heliopolis, and Maadi.
It is expected that the city will have 100,000 residents once it is completed.
Hani Younis , a spokesperson of the Ministry of Housing, said that the residential units in Al Asmarat will be delivered once the area is fully developed and ready for inhabitants.
Younis added that all ashwa’yat will be fully evacuated and removed to begin construction on other units once Al Asmarat City is complete.
The ministry’s spokesperson pointed out that transportation within Al Asmarat will include public transportation, albeit without tuk-tuks, as well as shops, health care units, and schools for various stages of education.
Head of Mokattam district, Osama Hilal, said that two bus lines were launched to serve Al Asmarat City, in coordination with the Public Transport Authority in Cairo. The first links Al Asmarat with Attaba, and the other links Al Asmarat with Hadayek Al-Kobba.
Hilal added that Mokattam is currently negotiating with the transportation authority to provide more lines once the housing units are inhabited.
Ashmawy confirmed his fund is working with the Ministry of Supply to coordinate on the construction of shops to sell goods in the area.
At the end of May, President Al-Sisi delivered the first 10 units of Al Asmarat City at the presence of Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Minister of Defense Sedqi Sobhi during the inauguration of the first and second phase of the project.
The prime minister said that the total area of the project is estimated at 126 acres with a total of 10,980 units, in addition to service buildings and other facilities.
Ismail noted that the most important feature of the government’s programme to develop ashwa’yat is to remove anything that threatens the livelihoods of Egyptians. The areas will be developed with the construction of 160,000 units with a cost estimated at EGP 14bn, to be completed within two years.
During a talk show programme aired recently, residents of Al-Doweiqa who won new units in Al Asmarat City expressed their gratitude towards the government for working towards a project in their favour.
“We were promised that we would move to Al Asmarat, and I hope this is the final and a real promise by the government because it is not the first time to hear such promises,” said Assmaa, a housewife who lives in Al-Doweiqa.
As an Egyptian citizen, Assmaa said: “I have the right to live in a safe and healthy house with my children.”
Ahmed Saeed, a child from Al-Doweiqa, was filmed saying that he hopes he can have a secure place to play and a nice school to attend, in addition to clean drinking water.
Another resident of the area, Hanaa Al Sayed said: “Thank God for my patience and I’m happy because my children will live in a place much better than the place I grew up in.”
There were previous attempts to move inhabitants of ashwa’yat to other developing areas outside of Cairo, such as 6th of October City. However, this move was met with resistance, as most who would have been subject to this relocation complained that 6th of October City does not have a proper transportation link with Cairo, so that people can still attend to their jobs.
Mohamed Gad said that selecting the location of Al Asmarat City is a better choice than 6th of October City, which is very far from their original place of residence and their work places.