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Zamalek metro construction to proceed despite complaints

The Zamalek metro station is to be executed as planned, Transport Minister Galal Said told the privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper on Sunday amid continuing objections from Zamalek residents.

The construction is part of a third metro line, which is intended to extend eventually to Cairo airport.

During visits to metro construction sites on Monday, Said said work on the third phase of this line, which will span 17.7 km and includes Zamalek station, is expected to start in September 2016 and be completed by September 2020, costing LE2 billion.

Residents are very unhappy with Said’s announcement and will fight it as much as they can, according to member of the Zamalek Association Maha Rashidy.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is funding 15 percent of the project, and agreed in 2012 to accept formal complaints, assess them and relay findings to the National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) and the Egyptian government.

Zamalek residents oppose the construction of the metro line on several grounds, and have already made their complaints known to the EIB, who in 2013 compiled an extensive report based on their concerns.

According to Rashidy, the biggest concern is over the stability of the buildings the proposed metro line will run underneath, as residents fear the soil will not be able to withstand the large-scale underground excavation required to construct the line. “This construction will definitely damage the buildings. There are many old houses and the soil is not strong enough to handle the digging,” Rashidy told Mada Masr.

The EIB expressed concern over the state of many of the buildings in the proposed area in its final report, highlighting the need for repairs and conceding that the nature of the soil could pose problems if not properly considered.

Recommendations from the Bank included feasibility studies to assess the strength of the foundations of the affected buildings and take any necessary steps to strengthen them or formulate an action plan with all parties involved, including explaining the situation adequately to residents. “This assessment needs to be done on each building, each flat, each basement,” the EIB report stated, adding, “This is the only way to avoid future unsolvable issues in case of any future complaints by residents.”

Rashidy explained that many other alternatives were proposed by Zamalek residents and submitted to the EIB, but have so far been ignored.

The EIB concluded that Zamalek residents and the NAT should continue discussions relating to alternative routes, but did not specify that a change of route was necessary or that their investment would hinge on the compliance of the residents, despite funding being temporarily suspended to allow for arbitration in 2013.

A lawsuit is currently ongoing against the metro’s construction. The next session in the case is due to be heard at Cairo Administrative Court on October 18.

Note: Some quote attributions have been amended in this piece since it was first published. 

AD