CAIRO: The areas surrounding the world-famous Giza pyramids are teeming with tourists and merchants, but many have begun to express their worries concerning illegal housing being constructed near the landmarks.
The recent illegal construction of a residential building, which has partially blocked the view of Giza Pyramid “is a blatant encroachment of Egypt’s building laws which restrict urban housing in a five km radius from the Giza plateau,” Coordinator of the Popular Front to Defend Antiquities Osama Karar told Youm7 Saturday.
“If encroachments of building residential units in the area continue at the same rate witnessed since the January 25 Revolution, the Giza Pyramids won’t be seen from more than 30-meters away,” said Karar in response to photos published in Youm7 Friday.
The photos show an under-construction residential building located in Abu el-Houl street, walking distance from the foot of the Sphinx. The photos also show mobile network towers installed on rooftops, within the perimeter of the area where construction is restricted.
“Several residential buildings, with ranging from 5 to 11 stories tall, are being built in streets located less than 200 meters from the Giza Pyramids area. It is a blatant encroachment,” he added.
The Giza Plateau is part of a zone of 50 square kilometers that is protected by UNESCO, which stretches to the funerary complex at Saqqara, further south.
“The ancient ruins of the Memphis area , including the Pyramids of Giza , Saqqara , Dahshur , Abu Ruwaysh , and Abu Sir, were collectively designated a World Heritage site in 1979,” archaeologist Sherif el-Sabban told The Cairo Post Saturday.
Following the 2011 revolution and the lack of proper security, private construction companies demolished some of the area’s old villas and 4-story residential buildings and replaced them with tall, residential buildings that encroach on the neighborhood’s small alleyways.
Karar says that bureaucracy, a lax approach from the government in implementing building code along with corruption issues are common in Egypt’s official bodies issuing building permits, and represent a threat to Egypt’s cultural heritage.
“The Ministry of Antiquities seems unwilling to admit failure, but the Egyptian government should take action to ensure that archaeological sites do not end up in a disaster,” he said.