During a meeting that took place earlier this month between President Sisi, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Minister of Housing Assem al-Gazzar, the President gave directives that the government should start, beginning next December, implementing the planned move of State ministries from their current premises in Cairo to the government quarter of the New Administrative Capital. The move would signal the beginning of a transitional six-month trial period that starts once the preparation of the headquarters and premises of the government quarter is complete.
Accordingly, Dr Madbouly is following up on the works in the government quarter in the New Capital, together with the team in charge of these works. They check on all the arrangements, preparations and finishing touches that would allow the gradual relocation of the government from Cairo to the New Administrative Capital by the end of December. Official declarations in this regard centre on the dry run of the governmental premises; testing the electronic systems, secured electric current operation, and main gates operation.
While I am impressed and awed at the on-the-ground achievements in the New Capital, I note that they all centre on general planning; various official sector use; presidential, legislative, parliamentary and governmental facilities; and buildings for cultural, sports and religious activities. All this and many other factors promise that the New Administrative Capital, including its facilities, road networks, and modern digital and electronic communication systems, will undoubtedly be a milestone in modern urban achievement in Egypt.
Yet a question begs an answer: I look for definitive information regarding an official plan to accommodate and settle the employees who will move offices to the New Administrative Capital, and find no conclusive answer. I already broached the issue of the New Administrative Capital last July under the title “Questions and failures: New Administrative Capital”, in which I raised the following issues:
It was announced that the New Capital has the capacity to accommodate a population of 6.5 million people once its three stages are complete. It is understandable that full living stability of the government employees who will relocate during the first phases, will not happen soon, whether because of lack of housing or owing to the ambiguous vision regarding the destiny of the employees’ families. The only declarations made in this regard indicated that the employees moving to the New Administrative Capital were carefully selected, and have been receiving training to qualify them to work with the modern technological systems set up in all governmental sectors in the New Capital. Also that they were given the choice between getting a housing stipend in order to procure adequate housing in the residential city built next to the new capital, or a transport allowance for those who do not wish to move out of their current homes. How can human stability which is the main component for a nascent settlement, be achieved? The New Administrative Capital is not only a business community; it is a stable human community too.
Neither has anything been mentioned regarding the families of the employees moving to the New Capital; is anything being done for their spouses and children? Will the spouses be reassigned to new equivalent jobs, and will the children be relocated in schools, institutes or universities in the New Capital, equivalent to those they would leave behind once they move with their families? Is there a serious vision in place regarding the reuniting of the families of those employees? Amid the huge achievements in the New Capital, has human stability, the core of which is the family, been overlooked?
The logic behind the foundation of the New Capital was to pump populations out of Cairo, the mother capital overburdened with excessive numbers of residents, and to secure their relocation and settlement in the new capital. The success of the project of the New Administrative Capital hinges on how well it succeeds in achieving the objective of the human transition and stability. We must not end up with a modern glamourous capital populated every morning by those who work there, and left a ghost town at the end of the day as these workers go home to their families.
Until the State can come up with a clear vision on how to achieve a human stable community in the New Administrative Capital, the question I raised before still persists: have we focused on urbanisation but missed out on the human element?
12 November 2021