Monday,18 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1395, (24 - 30 May 2018)
Monday,18 February, 2019
Issue 1395, (24 - 30 May 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Settling construction offences

Parliament is expected to pass two laws regulating building works soon, reports Gamal Essam El-Din


Settling construction offences
Settling construction offences

Deputy head of parliament’s Housing Committee Khaled Abdel-Aziz Fahmi told reporters Monday that two laws aimed at regulating building works are expected to be passed by parliament “very soon”. “While the first law seeks to settle building offences through reconciliation, the second aims to make it much easier to obtain a building licence,” Fahmi said.

According to Fahmi, the so-called law on “Reconciliation in Building Offences” is of major importance to 50 million citizens who represent 39 per cent of the total population in Egypt. “For this reason and as it covers such a big sector of the population, the Housing Committee has made sure that the law takes social dimensions into account,” said Fahmi, indicating that “while the law seeks to stem the tide of haphazard and illegal building works and eliminate construction offences, it also gives incentives to citizens to cooperate with authorities to help achieve these two objectives.”

Head of the Housing Committee Moetaz Mahmoud told reporters that the law allows citizens to reach a settlement in offences they committed in violation of the building code.

Mahmoud indicated that the 12-article law states that “a technical committee in each administrative district across Egypt will be formed to review construction and building offences and help settle them in a reconciliatory way. The word ‘reconciliatory’ means that offenders will be forgiven instead of being handed down a prison sentence or their property sequestrated,” said Mahmoud, adding that “offenders will be obliged to pay a certain fee in return for settling offences”.

The Technical Committee which will be in charge of settling offences will be headed by an experienced construction engineer. “It will also comprise one civil engineer, one architectural engineer, and representatives from ministries of housing and interior,” said Mahmoud, adding that the Technical Committee will be entrusted with receiving “reconciliation requests” and writing reports on them.

The law states that “reconciliation” will not cover buildings with grave construction defects or with marked architectural design, or buildings established on agricultural land, or on lands regulated by the Antiquities Protection Law or on lands owned by the state. “Reconciliation will just cover buildings which are in violation of construction laws,” states Article 1 of the law.

Fahmi said violations and offences made on agricultural land will be regulated by a different law. “The number of such violations is big, exceeding one million, and they will be settled by a different law,” said Fahmi.

The law states “a reconciliation request should be submitted to the concerned administrative district within three months from the date the executive regulations of the law are issued.”

Article 3 states that “once it receives a reconciliation request, the Technical Committee will pay a field visit to the site of the building offence, and prepare an engineering report on it within four months.”

“The report has the final say on whether the offence could be settled, and if yes offenders will be forgiven instead of facing prison sentences and sequestration,” Article 2 states.

People whose reconciliation requests are rejected will have the right to appeal. “A committee including a judge and experienced engineers will be formed to review appeals and have a final say,” Article 3 says.

Fahmi said MPs differed greatly over the value of money collected against settling offences. MPs, Fahmi said, complained that the value is very high and could discourage citizens from cooperating with authorities.

Article 8 states that all money collected in return for reconciliation will be transferred to the state treasury. “The money will be used to remove slum areas and build low cost housing units in Cairo and other governorates,” said Fahmi.

According to Fahmi, statistics show that the number of buildings which committed construction violations and offences stand at 1,800 million. “This is a very big number and it is increasing, and we have high hopes the new law will help settle them,” said Fahmi, adding that “offenders who decline to reach reconciliation in line with the new law will face stiff penalties ranging from being put in jail to property being sequestrated.

Fahmi said parliament’s Housing Committee has also finished the second, and final, reading of the Unified Building Law. “This law complements the one above as it also aims to stop construction offences,” said Fahmi, indicating that “the law aims to impose new codes of construction and building works in order to make it difficult for anyone to violate it. This is an effective preventive measure that will finally eliminate offences altogether,” said Fahmi, adding that “at the same time the law will make it easier for citizens to get a building licence in terms of eliminating many of the existing bureaucratic obstacles. We hope all of these legislative steps will put an end to building offences in Egypt,” Fahmi added.

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