CAIRO: The Cairo Governorate partially evacuated the area of Razaz, in the slum area of Manshiyet Nasser, following scientific reports confirming threats posed by a potential rockslide on the hill, various media outlets reported Monday.
The area of Razaz is located on the hill of Mokattam, and is threatened by a rockslide, which if neglected will soon destroy houses and kill people, the Egyptian government said.
Nearly 19 houses were destroyed and 98 families were evacuated on Monday, moving to residences in Mokattam and October 6 City, Cairo Governor Galal Mostafa Saeed stated in press statements.
He added that a committee of experts is examining reparation and preparing restoration strategies, at the cost of 300 EGP.
However, residents objected to the government’s decision, and complained of having to move to a far location, such as the suburb of October 6 City. “Moving there will cost us a lot of money, which is not fair in light of our monthly income of 30 EGP,” a child told Masrawy website.
As such, the Prime Minister met with several residents to discuss alternatives to provide them with temporary residences or contracts ensuring their right to apartments in the new units to be built in the future after the problem is solved, “but the government had to impose the decision to evacuate in face of their intransigence,” Deputy Cairo Governor Mohamed Ayman told Vetogate.
Razaz falls next to the area of Doweika in Manshiyet Nasser, where a deadly rockslide that occurred in 2008 is estimated to have killed 119 people and injured 55 others. The issue had raised wide controversy over the authorities’ neglect of the citizens’ endangered lives, despite being aware of reports warning of the rockslide.
Two years after the Doweika rockslide, eight officials were brought to trial and sentenced to three to five years in jail, on charges of manslaughter. Six officials from the Manshiyet Nasser District department were sentenced, while two were found innocent, including a main suspect; the Deputy Governor at the time.
Former Deputy Governor Major General Mahmoud Yassin explained that the area of Manshiyet Nasser had been under the surveillance of a specialized committee since 1993.
In a televised interview in 2011, Yassin said The Egyptian Geological Survey Authority has been working on a project called the “Trimming Rocks Project,” as a potential solution to the threat.
Yet, the committee’s recommendations to the government to adopt safety measures were never implemented, Yassin added.
Following the tragedy, conflicts erupted between the residents and the governorate over re-allocation, as residents accused the government of failing to deliver the “promised agreements.”
“My family and I still live with my brother in his apartment. I have a letter that gives me a right to an apartment in the area of Al-Nahda. But the local government wants me to buy it and actually pay for it,” one of the residents had stated in an interview in 2011.
On the other hand, the government claimed it has been conned by the people. “Unfortunately, people succeeded in manipulating the law and fooling the governorate to obtain free apartments, which they are now selling at the highest rates,” explained Khalil Shaat, the Supervisor of Manshiyet Nasser Unit at the Cairo Governorate at the time, in an interview.
But the issue revealed more on the living conditions in slum areas, which have originally grown due to a lack of administrative measures to address them.
Shaat nonetheless preferred to share responsibility between government and people. He admitted the government’s lack of organization and control but blamed the ignorance and poverty that shaped these people’s mentalities in destructive way, leading them to ransom urban movement.
“There are no initiatives in decision-making, people are not service-oriented and NGOs are not effective. The government has weak facilities and people are not cooperative. It becomes a chaos,” Shaat said.
Yet, while in 2008, the government was accused of not taking action until disaster occurs, this year Mahlab’s decision to evacuate the area is perhaps indicative of steps to be taken to address the many threats that face the slum area.
However, slum areas as a whole remain a pervasive and resilient sub-society that thrives according to different rules, and maintains a potentially major stake in the Egyptian socio-political arena.