Bodies under the rubble: The collapse of buildings in Egypt is ongoing

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It has become common news in Egypt to announce the collapse of a property, killing and injuring many in light of the ruling regime’s ignorance of the crisis and leaving real estate collapsing above their heads. Alexandria governorate has the largest share of news of the real estate collapse, as it has become commonplace to receive news of casualties as a result of residential collapses and the removal of bodies from under the rubble. Several days ago, six people were killed after a property collapsed in the Muharram Bey area in Alexandria, while the investigations of the Public Prosecution revealed that three decisions to pull down the building were not implemented.

The losses of the collapse of real estate do not stop at the death of people or others’ injury, despite the seriousness of the two matters. Still, it leaves other human tragedies, which are the displacement of entire families. Usually, alternative housing is not provided to residents of ramshackle properties, according to Mohamed Ismail, Secretary of the House of Representatives Housing Committee. Ismail confirmed in press statements that providing alternative housing is the governorates’ responsibility since the removal decision was issued and before the property collapsed.

Shocking numbers

According to the latest reports of the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, the number of properties in a bad condition are as many as 98,000, which may collapse from one moment to the next over the heads of their residents. The reports indicated that despite this huge number, government agencies and localities did not take any action to demolish these buildings before the disaster. According to the Central Authority of Statistics data, there are 11,340 properties classified under the item not subject to restoration and that are required to be demolished. Yet no demolition measures have been issued or acted upon so far.

There are about 11,215 properties under demolition, which are real estate whose demolition measures have begun and have not been completed. Some of them are still inhabited by their residents because there is no other shelter, which poses a threat to their lives and their neighbours’ lives. According to the data, the ramshackle real estate is concentrated in four governorates, namely al-Sharqiya, which has 11,430 properties, followed by Minya with 10,424 properties, then Sohag with 7,370 properties, and then Dakahlia with 7,095 properties.

A major disaster

The Secretary of the House of Representatives Housing Committee explained in press statements that the statistics relate to old real estate. Still, the biggest disaster is the presence of modern properties that are ripe for collapse. He indicated that modern real estate is ramshackle due to technical defects that are difficult to quantify, and this means that the real number of real estate prone to fall can double. In Alexandria, violating real estate and towers are spreading and are collapsing almost weekly.

According to observers, local agencies and provincial officials’ corruption is what caused this disaster, as building permits are issued through bribes and favouritism. Also, ramshackle properties that need restoration must have official papers to say that the buildings have been restored or the residents evacuated, which is not done and then citizens are surprised by the fall of the property and the casualties.

For his part, Abdel Moneim Saleh, head of the Technical Follow-up Inspection Authority, attributed the collapse of old real estate to several reasons, including:

  • Lack of regular maintenance of the property.
  • Bad relationship between landlord and tenant.
  • Failure to implement removal decisions issued due to the stubbornness of both landlords and tenants.

Saleh pointed out that the collapse of modern real estate has other causes, most notably the poor implementation of the property, either due to the owner’s ignorance or desire to get a lot of money quickly. He believes that the person responsible for this is the owner and the engineer supervising the implementation, in addition to the absence of oversight from local agencies and provincial officials and their disregard for transgressions.