The Egyptian government has embarked on a project to eradicate the worst slums available in the country.
There are an estimated 351 slums which officials deem unsafe for its residents.
As a result, the government is on a mission to relocate the estimated 850,000 slum dwellers to high rise apartments such as the Tahya Misr in the capital Cairo.
The new residents were from a slum which was very dangerous and is called Manshiyet Nasser.
The move follows building collapse – a common phenomenon in Cairo – and a landslide in 2008 which killed some 130 slum dwellers.
Osama Hassan from the Housing Ministry described as priority, the need to relocate slum dwellers who were affected by the landslide.
“The new residents were from a slum which was very dangerous and is called Manshiyet Nasser. After the landslide (that occurred in the area) around 1,200 families had their homes demolished and they moved to the 6th of October district in Cairo. These were our priority, to get them here first. The rest of the residents will come from those who currently live in Manshiyet Nasser”, Hassan said.
The new residents are expected to pay “a nominal monthly fee” which Ragab Abdel Naby, the project consultant says will cover maintenance and garbage collection costs “so we’re able to maintain the compound”.
He further explained that “we’re not just building houses, we’re rehabilitating people who were living in unfortunate circumstances”.
Mayar Mohammed is one of the first slum residents to have relocated to the new government building.
“I swear to God we were living a very difficult life (but) our husbands weren’t really aware of it” she said.
“I had to fetch water from a far place, I had to climb steep steps just to get water. I was very exhausted. But here, the best thing that we have (in our new home) is access to a glass of water, this is the best thing” Mayar added.
As the evacuation of slum dwellers from dangerous areas continue, the government is also upgrading some homes in other informal settlements as they await their turn to be relocated to the Tahya Misr.
“The houses that have broken walls and falling ceilings are being demolished and then rebuilt as they were before, as a temporary solution. This is just until those who live in higher risk areas are all moved to new homes, and then their turn will come” said Rami Megahed, the Project manager for Al-Aasal.
But some of the slum dwellers are unhappy with the work being done by Al-Aasal.
One of them who said her house collapsed about 28 years ago said nothing has changed even with the renovation works being done.
“It is still the same. It is just one room. I have five children and a man and his wife that makes seven people, I have girls and there are young men in the same building. Whenever my daughter is in the bathroom, a guy knocks on the door telling her to hurry up. Is this appropriate? Honestly, this renovation is not working for us” she said furiously.
The first two phases of the Tahya Misr project which comprises 12,000 flats were completed in 11 months.
The third phase of the ambitious project expected to cost about 14 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.58 billion) will open in 2017 and push the number of flats to 20,000.
The Tahya Misr project when completed, is expected to house 100,000 people.