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16 January 2012 / merehutch

“The Contested Road to Khufu: Why the proposed new road wouldn’t solve any of the problems it claims to

One element of the Cairo 2050 document is the creation of a wide boulevard from the Sphinx square to the area of the  Giza Pyramids.  The project proposes the extension of the Arab League Road by 6 km and a 540 m wide roadway and redevelopment zone which would include high-end hotels and offices in the space currently occupied by over 220,00 residents and small businesses.  Khufu Avenue’s construction would require leveling of large areas of the of the Buulaq el Dukrur region – an area with one of the highest densities in Cairo – among other neighborhoods in its way, consequently causing significant displacement and segregation of informal areas from business and tourist areas.

There is currently no credible relocation plan for the residents who will be forced to leave.  Many of the affected residents have lived in their homes for generations and depend on the social cohesion of their community for employment opportunities.

Moreover, this may not be the most effective investment in transportation in order to accomplish the stated goals.  Three of the goals stated in the 2002 Greater Cairo Region Urban Transport Master Plan is that the cities transportation system be environmentally friendly, economical and Equitable system.  Other mechanisms exist to move people effectively, often more effectively than building new roads.  One such option is Bus Rapid Transit, (for more information see post https://cairofrombelow.org/2012/01/16/proposed-world-bank-loan-of-250-million-usd-for-egyptian-transportation/ or http://www.embarq.org/en/node/28) Bus Rapid Transit has been estimated to cost about 1/10 that of a subway system and much less than building a 540m wide road and real estate project.  Importantly, these systems build upon existing infrastructure rather than requiring mass dislocation of thousands of residents.

Meredith Hutchison is part of a team analyzing governance over land in Cairo for Columbia University and the Institute for Research and Debate on Governance.  She can be reached at cairofrombelow@gmail.com

Nicholas Hamilton is an architectural designer and international urban affairs consultant.  He is also part of a team analyzing governance over land in Cairo for Columbia University and the Institute for Research and Debate on Governance. He can be reached at cairofrombelow@gmail.com

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