Nile pollution major challenge for Egyptian government
Minister of Environment Khaled Fahmy - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: In efforts to reduce Nile River pollution caused by touristic ships, Minister of Environment Khaled Fahmy held a meeting with officials Wednesday to reach a solution.

The meeting was attended by a number of officials responsible for the Nile pollution file, including Chief Executive Officer of Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency Ahmed Abu el-Soaud, representatives from Holding Company for Water and Wastewater Chamber of Floating Hotels, and leaders in the Ministries of Environment, Interior, and Tourism.

There are two types of touristic ships in Egypt, stable and mobile, Professor of land and water at the Faculty of Agriculture at Cairo University Nader Nour el-Din told The Cairo Post Wednesday. The stable ships are called awamas and exist on the banks of the Nile River in Cairo from Agouza to Imbaba. The other type are cruises that include floating hotels three or five stories high, some cruise along the Nile, and some that go on three-day trips from Aswan to Luxor.

“All touristic ships must get a license from the concerned authorities to make sure they do not pollute the river stream,” Nour el-Din said. The law requires these ships to have containers to store “sewage and sanitation waste,” then dispose of them properly in specialized stations. “Most of them however do not follow these necessary measures that are vital to protect the Nile and just get rid of the waste in the river,” he added.

Nour el-Din also said the fuel to drive these ships is considered one of the main sources of Nile pollution since some of it leaks in the water during maintenance or during fuel supply.

He said the awamas also dispose laundry materials into the Nile, most of which contain dangerous chemicals that can poison the fish and cause health issues to people who drink the water.

Nour el-Din said the Egyptian law bans all this waste that threaten people’s health and that authorities should focus on improving the cleanliness of the Nile River and eliminate these issues.

There are more than 250 cruise ships between Luxor and Aswan and dozens in Cairo. Water experts warned ship authorities about the disposal of waste many times before.

Besides the ships and cruises, there are 120 factories that dispose waste in the Nile that are even more dangerous than the ships and should be the government’s focus in the future, Nour el-Din said.

“Around five billion cubic meters of waste is disposed in the Nile annually,” he said. Sanitary stations have only the bare minimum treatment for sewage, when instead they should have three stages of treatment to eliminate viruses and solid materials from waste before being disposed.

The Ministry of Environment’s meeting discussed several solutions of the issues of touristic ships including converting the waste disposal to the public network of sanitation through equipped barges.

The officials also discussed the importance of protocol between the Ministries of Environment and Tourism to find a solution. The Ministry of Environment recently established a berth in Luxor to contain the sanitation waste.

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