For the majority of Egyptians, this new capital city project is expensive and a drain on resources, but for the government, it is a necessity due to Cairo’s gradual congestion and its “ugliness”.
“Cairo isn’t suitable for the Egyptian people.
“There are traffic jams on every street, the infrastructure can’t support the population, and it’s very crowded. Without any specific masterplan, it has started to become ugly … there’s no humanity,” a spokesman for the new capital city project, Khaled El-Husseiny was quoted by news site The Guardian in defence of the project.
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Work has already begun on the unnamed smart city and administrative capital, 40km east of Cairo and the government is set to relocate to the area in June 2019.
The new capital is expected to house a total of five million people when completed, with a display of Chinese-built high-rises and residential buildings.
The long-cherished project would also house a majority of government buildings, including a new presidential palace, Parliament, 32 ministries and foreign embassies.
Businesses will also be enticed to a central business district in the new capital.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in 2015 announced the project of a new capital, expected to cost some $45 billion and to be completed by 2022.
The cost of the project was met with wide criticism, as many felt that the money could have been used to solve some challenges within the economy.
There are also concerns about the affordability of houses that would be available in the new capital.
As the government and its agencies gear up to move to the new capital, many people are also wondering what will become of the many empty buildings that would be left behind in Cairo.
“We have no plan as to how to invest in these buildings, but we will fix it and figure it out,” said El-Husseiny, who speaks for the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD), the company overseeing the project.
“Maybe we can make them into hotels,” he said, adding that profits accrued can be fed back into the ACUD.
Cairo’s population is said to be rapidly expanding, with the number of inhabitants growing by half a million in 2017.
With this comes the frantic need for housing, but will people and particularly, workers afford to move to the new capital?
The British Embassy in Cairo has told The Guardian that it is “assessing the move” with the other embassies yet to disclose their official position.