(Revenge – Slackness – Corruption)
The well-known triad of the Governorate of South Sinai
Residents stood up to the Ras Um El Sid cliff problem by rejecting digging procedures which had been unfortunately approved by the Egyptian Environment Affairs Agency, and which would have led to the breaking down of 4 million cubic meters of rocks creating sediment, in an amount large enough to destroy almost 6 kilometers of coral reef.
Sinai Reef Organization, which works on environmental conservation and local community development in South Sinai, warns that any continuation of this proposed restoration to the Ras Um El Sid cliff will be severely detrimental to the environment, and will consequently have a negative impact on tourist activities.
How can we develop tourism while we destroy the naturally beautiful protected areas
in South Sinai?
Where is the communication between the ministries, the concerned governmental bodies
and the civil society?
- The alternative solution to the Ras Um El Sid cliff problem
After “Sinai Reef Organization” had issued statements concerning the Ras Um El Sid cliff problem, the Prime Minster assigned the file to the Minister of Housing. Subsequently, a governmental engineering consultant produced another suspicious proposal to the Ministry of Housing that would cost the country 800 million Egyptian pounds.
The Ministry of Housing rejected it of course for its exorbitant cost. Having seen this proposal
Dr. Mamdouh Hamza commented:
- “There is no detailed geological study for the area and no geo-engineering map identifying the rock formations and the geological compounds.”
- “Attempting to solve any problem without sufficient studies to identify the cause of the problem, probably will lead to haphazard and non-economic solutions, without effectively solving the problem.”
Sinai Reef Organization conducted meetings with the Minister of Housing and the Minister of Environment to explain alternative visual and engineering solutions that would preserve lives from hazard, protect the environment and be more cost effective.
The new proposed solution suggests using Egyptian sculpture artists to design and create supports for the overhanging rocks by using iron tubes, iron beams, and/or wooden logs under the supervision of Dr. Mamdouh Hamza, turning the area into a new tourist attraction.
Sinai Reef Organization presented this solution to the Minister of Housing, but is still waiting for a response.
In that same meeting, Sinai Reef Organization also demanded to be included in any discussions relevant to the project.
- The malicious decrees and court cases
The Mayor of Sharm El Sheikh took to court the residents of Sea Street (who are directly affected by the proposed cliff restoration), and issued administrative decrees to remove their gardens, a move supported by the Governor.
The decrees claim that the garden areas are violating the law by trespassing on government land, despite the fact that the residents followed the City Council regulations and have the correct documentation to prove it.
- The cover up of negligence
The Mayor of Sharm El Sheikh issued these decrees in a bid to cover up the City Council’s neglect and poor efforts in treating the real causes of the problem, which simply are:
- The worn out, decaying sewage network (which dates back to the time of the Israeli occupation in Sinai), which is leaking and destroying the cliff.
- The failure/turning a blind eye by the Mayor and the City Council to correct violations committed by Ridge Wood Company (which owns and manages the desalination plant in Hadaba-Ras Um El Sid). This is despite a court decree issued as a result of a violation report made by the EEAA to Ridge Wood for drilling their water outflow well to just 20m above sea level, when the correct depth should in fact be 70m below sea level. Due to this malpractice, leakages have caused water to seep into the hill around the Tower area, part of the Ras Um El Sid cliff.
- The City Council’s breach of contractual obligations
In 1987, the City Council sold various plots of land in the first row of Sea Street in a public auction, on the premise it would be a quiet, family neighborhood with no commercial activities.
The planning at that time was mapped out by the City Council whose instructions were to make a small green area in front of each villa, and a garden between every six villas.
The City Council then violated this contract by selling off the land allocated for gardens to representatives of the Mubarak regime. In addition to this land, the green areas were also sold off – an offer not extended to the rest of the residents of Sea Street.
Rumors circulating about the prospect of commercial businesses opening up in front of these residents’ homes and causing even more damage to the environment are an extremely worrying concern.
- The exclusion of the civil society
Sinai Reef Organization was obliged to send a legal warning letter to the authorities when the Governor deliberately tried to delay the registration of the NGO.
The Governor also claimed he had conducted a meeting with the residents before the endorsement of the restoration project to the Ras Um El Sid cliff (which had in fact never happened). The City Council tried to exclude the residents once again by refusing to hold a meeting where they could present an alternative solution for the cliff of Ras Um El Sid.
The administration of local government is compelled by law to conduct public hearings with the residents concerned, whenever any new solutions are studied. These public hearings are to ensure the proper procedures of obtaining environmental protection and to prevent the repetition of a scandal like the original proposal of restoration for the Ras Um El Sid cliff.
The solution proposed by Sinai Reef Organization will preserve lives from hazard, prevent the waste of public money, protect the environment and also beautify the area and turn it into a new attraction seen by tourists on boats passing daily in front of this area.
Disrespect of human lives, destruction of the environment, intransigence of the city councils, wasting of public money.…. Till when?