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The building story of Ramlet Boulaq

SOCIETY-Hoqookby Fanny Ohier | Hoqook

Boulaq, Cairo (Egypt). Ph. Silvia DoglianiIt is the story of many informal settlements in Cairo, and informal settlements represent about 75 percent of the Egyptian capital.

Former president Hosni Mubarak had established a urban plan called Cairo 2050, years ago. The housing project set down that all residents in informal neighbourhoods would be expelled, in order to leave the space for other property projects, such as ‘tourism facilities’ on several of Cairo’s islands for example.
So, as many slums’s residents in Cairo, those of Ramlet Boulaq – an informal neighbourhood located about three kilometers north from the famous Tahrir Square, nearby the Nile Corniche – have to fight for the property of their land.

Whereas the Nile City Towers (NCT) were built in the early 2000’s, many residents of Ramlet Boulaq came to the area about 100 years ago. But on the original plan for the tower complex, slums’ lands were included. Then started a battle for the land. Sawiris, the owner of the Towers, intended to buy the lands, using gradually more and more illegal means in order to get rid of Ramlet Boulaq’s inhabitants.

The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) made a report showing that the price of one square metre in Ramlet Boulaq is near EGP 36,000 (EGP is Egyptian Pounds, which means about 4,000 Euros today). But without knowing these amounts, some residents gave in their lands to the NCT for less than 1,000EGP.

On 20 July 2012, the government took part in the fight, Cairo governorate issued a temporary seizure order. The idea of such a decision is to give the owners of the lands a derisory compensation and relocate them, to illegally demolish their buildings ; and then, three years later, when the temporary seizure is over, the government issues a permanent confiscation decision.
The strategy permits the government to avoid paying an important amount of money to the residents and also avoid going through legal procedures. Finally, the government confiscate the lands and sell them to NCT. Though, these temporary seizure decisions are illegal because not lead by extreme emergency. Thus it does violate the international human rights treaties, by forcing people to leave their lands.

The story became more complicated with the killing of one of the slums’ resident by a tourism police officer of the Nile City Towers (NCT) …

 

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