Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1429, (7 - 13 February 2019)
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1429, (7 - 13 February 2019)

Ahram Weekly

Planning for the future

Connectivity will be the name of the game for the New Administrative Capital, writes Ahmed Morsy

Planning for the future
Planning for the future

A recent report published by Fitch Solutions, a global firm providing research and macro intelligence, questioned the viability of the electric railway being constructed to connect Greater Cairo with the New Administrative Capital (NAC). Fitch was cautious about the economic viability of the railway given the New Capital has as yet no permanent residents.

The report also said the Ministry of Transport’s two-year timetable for constructing the train was optimistic.

“Although the funding for the railway has reportedly been agreed, with a $1.2 billion loan from Exim Bank of China, the project faces numerous obstacles including its questionable feasibility, high costs and complexity, which make lengthy delays likely,” said the report.

Three weeks ago, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli witnessed the signing of an executive agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China (Exim) for a $1.2 billion soft loan to build an electric rail link between Greater Cairo and the NAC.

“The electric train will be constructed by Chinese companies under the supervision of the Ministry of Transportation. The railway will connect with the third line of the Cairo underground network in Salam City’s Adli Mansour metro station. It will link Greater Cairo, Obour, Shorouk, Mostaqbal and Robiki with the NAC,” Khaled Al-Husseini, public relations manager for the NAC Urban Development Company, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

The electric train will be the main transport conduit from Greater Cairo to the NAC, Al-Husseini said. Construction is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2019. The electric railway will include 11 stations and transport 350,000 passengers a day.

The Fitch Solutions’ report has raised a number of eyebrows. Ali Al-Biali, head of the Urban Planning Department at the Faculty of Engineering at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, pointed out that for a new city to attract residents it must have transport links to other cities. “It is one of the basics of urban planning,” Al-Biali told the Weekly.

The NAC will connect with Greater Cairo via the Cairo-Ain Sokhna Road and the Cairo-Suez Road, and with New Cairo via the Bin Zayed axis, currently under construction, which will join the 90s axis. It will also be accessible from the regional ring road and the middle ring road.

Al-Biali says the NAC is not planned to start life as a busy city. Projects of the magnitude of the NAC are not implemented in a single phase.

IT specialist Walid Yehia wishes urban planners had done the groundwork they are doing for the NAC for the 6 October city, where he lives. He has a hard time commuting to Downtown Cairo for work.

“If there was a train or a metro it would make the journey much easier,” he says. The problem is that if work were to begin on such a transport link now, when the Sixth of October is already a residential hub, the construction would cause unbearable congestion.

The NAC is located 60km from Cairo, Suez and Ain Sokhna and is being built on an area of 184,000 feddans (one feddan is 1.038 acres), approximately double the area of Cairo. The first phase of the NAC is expected to be complete by 2020. It includes all the infrastructure necessary for further development, residential areas, services and an entertainment hub as well as the governmental district. The latter covers 1,000 feddans, and will include the presidency, the cabinet and parliament and the headquarters of government ministries.

Al-Husseini says 50 per cent of the government district has been completed and ministries are expected to move to the NAC in 2020. Officials at the Ministry of Housing have announced that employees expected to move to work in the new city will be given help to buy apartments in the residential districts through flexible instalment systems. An estimated 50,000 employees are scheduled to be transferred.

Population density in the new city is planned at 100 people per feddan, says Al-Biali.

“Let us say that it will be 50 people per feddan in the NAC during the first phase, which covers 10,000 feddans, meaning it will initially accommodate half a million residents.”

Al-Biali thinks it is unlikely there will be delays in the construction of the electric train. “The most difficult parts of the construction — though residential complexes and crowded roads such as Al-Alf Maskan district and Al-Salam city — have already been completed,” he says.

The NAC will include residential districts, a government district, a justice district, a central business and financial district, an international airport, exhibition grounds and a convention centre, an educational district, a diplomatic district, a medical district and recreation centres, including public gardens and parks.

Besides the electric train, the government is planning a monorail that will connect the Cairo district of Nasr City with the NAC. Discussions are also underway with a private company to provide bus services between the NAC and various Cairo districts.

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