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Squaring the triangle
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 12 - 10 - 2017

The redevelopment of the Maspero triangle area in central Cairo is nearing completion. According to General Mohamed Ayman Abdel-Tawab, deputy governor of Cairo for the North and Western Districts, residents have either been rehoused in Asmarat or provided with compensation sufficient to rent alternative accommodation for one year.
“Surveys of the area have been conducted. Some residents opted to go to Asmarat, others have received compensation. A number of families have remained in situ as their homes were renovated by the government. Some buildings are so dilapidated they are almost collapsing over the inhabitants and others have been demolished because they were too dangerous for people to live in,” says Sabah, a mother of four and resident of the Maspero triangle.
“The government started by evacuating buildings behind the mall which were too dangerous for people to live in. There are still some police cars in the area but no one has come to talk to us yet about alternative housing.”
“Everyone was asked about their preferences. Those who chose to go to Asmarat were quickly given flats. Those who wanted to rent safer houses were given money for a year's rent,” said a coffee shop owner in the district who asked for anonymity.
“Everyone knows the problems of the Maspero triangle have been growing for decades,” says Abdel-Tawab. “Yet we have managed to overcome them in a short time.”
The area, located in the heart of the capital behind the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Egyptian Radio and Television Union building, is bounded by Corniche, 26 July and Galaa streets.
Not all buildings in the area will be renovated, says Abdel-Tawab.
“Some buildings have been excluded from the plans and we are continuing to work on evacuating the triangle of inhabitants. So far 26 per cent of the 4,038 residents — 1,100 families — have been relocated. They include those who opted for compensation and those who wanted alternative accommodation in Asmarat district.”
“Next week we will begin dealing with residents who want to remain. They are divided into three categories: those who want to stay and rent accommodation, those who are seeking to own property with a selling ban, and those seeking property with no re-sale ban. In all three cases we are preparing documents which state the holder is entitled to a housing unit in the Maspero triangle as soon as the development process ends.”
During the first 12 months of reconstruction and rebuilding residents will receive LE12,000 to cover the costs of renting temporary accommodation.
“About 534 families have been re-housed in Asmarat. Another 750 families have opted to live in Maspero when the renovation process ends. Cheques for the latter are ready to be distributed,” says Abdel-Tawab.
Ahmed Darwish, deputy minister of housing for slum areas, told TV presenter Sherif Amer that 20 per cent of residents have already agreed to leave their houses and take either compensations or alternative accommodation. The cost of developing the area will be between LE3 and LE4 billion, of which LE600 million has been earmarked to offer residents compensation. The whole project, said Darwish, could take three years to complete.

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