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Developing the Triangle
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 21 - 06 - 2016

The Cairo governorate is organising a survey of residents of the Maspero Triangle area of the city, which runs from the Nile Corniche in the west, 26 July Street in the north, Abdel-Moneim Riyad Street in the south, and Al-Galaa Street in the east, to sound out their views on development of the area.
“The aim of developing the Triangle is to make the area a better place in the heart of Egypt's capital,” said Deputy Housing Minister Ahmed Adel Darweesh, who added that some 15,000 people currently live in the area.
“We intend to preserve their rights. We are not moving anyone from the Maspero Triangle or any other area. We are acting only when buildings are not suitable for people to live in, as we did in the Al-Deweka area when buildings were not fit for human habitation,” Darweesh said.
“I have heard about the new homes of those who have been moved from the area, but this is the place my father and grandfather lived, and it will be very difficult for me to leave. I have not heard about any demolitions, only about old houses that have collapsed,” said Haj Mohamed, a shop owner from the Maspero Triangle area.
“The idea of relocating people living in old buildings is a good one, but what happens is that these people are given new homes while retaining their old ones, which should be changed,” he asked.
Umm Mahmoud, the mother of four and an inhabitant of the Maspero Triangle area, said that government officials had inspected the area and asked residents what they wanted to see happen.
“If I was offered a decent place to live and a place to work, I would agree to leave. I want to be able to work without anyone bothering me,” she said. Her children are university graduates who now have to work selling fruit to make ends meet. “If my children were given job opportunities we would all lead a better life,” she said.
According to a local official from the Boulaq Abou Ella area, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the area of the Maspero Triangle is approximately 25 feddans and is partly owned by the Cairo governorate, a Saudi company and a Kuwaiti company, with the rest being private property.
He added that the main buildings in the area will not be included in the renovation process, including the Egyptian Radio and Television Union, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Italian Consulate building, as well as other government buildings.
He said that the renovation of the area will take place after compensation is given to families living in buildings more than 100 years old. Some of these are in danger because they are, in some cases, too dangerous for families to live in as parts of them have collapsed. The governorate has already given some families funds to rent homes elsewhere.
In January 2016, the governor of Cairo, Galal Saeed, told the Al-Ahram daily that a survey was being carried out to ask whether inhabitants wanted financial compensation or alternative homes to be provided. The area had been surveyed, he said, and its assets evaluated.
In November 2015, the governor and Minister of Housing Mustafa Madbouli met with representatives of the area to come up with an agreement over the renovations. They reassured the inhabitants that their interests would not be harmed, and a British company won the bid to renovate the area in the same month.
In July 2015, the Arab Contractors, a company partly owned by the government, restored the Italian Consulate building as well as 54 houses in the area that were damaged after a car bomb exploded nearby.
In September 2014, then prime minister Ibrahim Mehleb ordered that agreements be signed between the government and the inhabitants of the area in order to develop it.
“The governorate is responsible for re-locating those who live in dangerous areas to safer places. We have been negotiating with the owners of the land and the inhabitants for six months now and will go on until we reach a solution that will satisfy all the parties,” Darweesh said.


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