Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1217, (16 - 22 October 2014)
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1217, (16 - 22 October 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Not going to fall

Preventive measures have been taken to avoid another catastrophic rockslide in Mokattam, reports Ahmed Kotb

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Repair work at the site of a rock outcropping on Al-Mokattam Hills ended on Sunday, as part of an emergency plan to prevent a possible landslide that could endanger the lives of Mokattam residents.
 
Action was promptly taken last week when the outcropping came to the attention of Cairo governorate officials. At a press conference last Thursday Cairo Governor Galal Al-Said said the repair work would be carried out as per the recommendations of a governorate-drawn committee of engineers and geologists that had assessed the situation.
 
After studying the site, the committee concluded that some 100 square metres required attention prior to winter, when rainfall might lead to a landslide. The main roads of Mokattam were closed off for the three-day duration of the work, which began on Thursday, but the governorate made alternative pathways available to vehicles and pedestrians.


Rockslides on the heavily populated Al-Mokattam Hills have claimed many lives in the past. One major incident in 2008 when a rockslide struck the shanty town of Al-Dweiqa, leaving 60 dead and 200 injured. Only then were protection plans incorporated into urban development.


However, according to Mohamed Adel, a professor of geology at Ain Shams University, urban planning cannot be sufficiently preventative; the slide of Al-Dweiqa, for example, resulted from rock erosion due to cumulative sewage that could not have been controlled given the number of residents. The current works, he added, were an emergency plan that reduced but did not eliminate the possibility of a catastrophe.


Adel explained that the Mokattam landslides are due to excessive construction work and other human activity in the area. “Rocky outcroppings will continue to appear until the sewerage system is overhauled and tight controls are placed on water seepages,” he said.


He went on to say that, as well as sewage leakages, the excessive use of water, including the habit of spraying it on the ground, can be extremely perilous in such environment as that of Mokattam, where houses are built on the limestone rock surface.


During last week’s press conference, Al-Said was quoted as saying that a comprehensive study is being prepared by Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering to evaluate all dangerous areas in Mokattam and present the best possible engineering solutions to prevent landslides across the populated areas of the hills.

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