Egypt Watch

Bridge built over balcony of a house in Egypt raises controversy and ridicule

The Ministry of Transport and Communications strangely built a pedestrian crossing bridge over a house’s balcony. The bridge, built by the Ministry of Transport and Communications in Egypt in the city of Marsa Matruh (northwest of the country), sparked widespread controversy and popular anger due to the poor choice of its location, which caused the demolition of a balcony of a house in order to build it.

Activists circulated photos of a bridge in al-Hammam (220 kilometres east of Marsa Matruh) and the bridge’s concrete overlap in a house inside the balcony of one of the residential units.

Muhammad al-Halawani, the owner of the property whose balcony was destroyed to build the bridge, said: “I did not know that the bridge will pass next to my house in this strange way, and I have documents proving ownership of the house that I own.” He added in press statements: “The Hammam Council and City made an inspection on-site, and promised to solve the problem, stressing that he did not agree that the bridge would pass in this way as it was said, and that the balcony was demolished and the house was expropriated without my knowledge.”

For his part, the Egyptian parliamentarian from Matrouh Governorate, Rizk Galli, said that the bridge caused great harm to some citizens of the residents of the houses surrounding it, as it is being built in the wrong place. He added: “We objected as MPs from the beginning… and we suggested moving it.” He continued: “It was possible to construct the bridge on Great Alexandria Street because it is a wide street and there is no housing block on it, unlike the area in which the bridge’s construction works are currently underway. It is crowded with residents, and the bridge is surrounded on both sides by many houses and housing facilities.” He pointed out that the best solution currently to solve the problem of the bridge building overlapping on one of the housing units, which threatens it in the future with accidents and poses a danger to the residents, is to count all the houses surrounding the bridge, and for the Ministry of Transport to compensate them with appropriate compensation or provide alternative housing units for them, and complete construction work on the bridge, to prevent the residents of the surrounding area from being affected.

The al-Hammam Alawi Bridge is implemented to connect the marine area with the tribal area of ​​the city of al-Hammam and to reduce accidents on the two railways, which passes the bridge above. This is not the first time that the construction of a bridge in Egypt has sparked widespread controversy. Months ago, construction work on the King Salman axis (west of Cairo) caused widespread controversy on social media after the axis seemed to be strangely adjacent to residential buildings. At the time, local newspapers quoted a source from the project’s executing company as saying that these buildings violated the planning line and encroached on the right of way.

The King Salman axis (over the cover path of the Zomor Canal) is being implemented in Giza Governorate to connect the governorate’s northern and southern regions, at a total cost of about EGP 4.2 billion ($267 million). This controversy prompted the Egyptian authorities to announce a committee’s formation, to which a EGP 0.25 billion ($16 million dollars) will be allocated, to compensate the facilities damaged by the construction operations.