CAIRO: Newly-appointed governors took the oath before President Hosni Mubarak at the Presidential Palace on Sunday along with the city mayor of Luxor and the deputy-governors of Cairo, Giza and Alexandria.
On Thursday President Mubarak had announced a governor reshuffle through a presidential decree which includes the appointment of 12 new governors, the transfer of three and the continuation in office of 13.
Two new governorates were also created, bringing the total to 28, in a restructuring plan aimed at easing the burden of the two most populous governorates Cairo and Giza.
Now Helwan and Sixth of October have become independent governorates in their own right and no longer parts of Cairo and Giza respectively. The governor of Giza, Fathi Saad will step down from his current post to take over Sixth of October city.
The restructuring was not without its problems, though, as clashes erupted in Al-Wahat Al-Bahariya Saturday between local residents and security forces over the decision to bring the oasis under the jurisdiction of the governorate of Minya.
Yet a decree by Minister of Housing Ahmed El-Maghrabi was issued Saturday after an emergency meeting of the National Democratic Party’s General Secretariat, reversing the decision and attaching Bahariya and Ayat to the new governorate of Sixth of October.
The decree also made other changes, notably placing the districts of Atfeeh and Al-Saf as part of the new Helwan governorate.
“The new divisions are a good thing, because Cairo and Giza were very huge and so have many problems. This division may speed up the process,
Urban Planning Consultant Mohammed Sweidan told Daily News Egypt.
“The governor of Cairo has four deputies because it is such a huge area which they have divided into four sectors, now the deputies may have more leverage in making quicker decisions, he added.
According to Sweidan, Giza did not have deputies until former governor (and later Justice Minister) Mahmoud Abu Leil specifically requested one from President Hosni Mubarak. He said Giza had also had a specific problem in that it consisted of both urban and rural areas (including Al-Wahat Al-Bahariya which was 350 km away from the governorate) and thus needed more than one deputy.
“Now that the Wahat are part of a smaller governorate, Sweidan added, “issues can be addressed quicker especially as that area has a lot of potential in eco-tourism. And adding it to Sixth of October rather than Minya was the correct decision.
Rumors that the housing developments of New Cairo such as Al-Shorouq and Badr satellite cities were assimilated into the new Helwan governorate were quashed by the Deputy Housing Minister Mohamed Demerdash who insisted that they remained under the umbrella of the New Urban Communities’ Authority.
There has been some criticism of the new restructuring, some calling it a political decision which required better planning and preparation before implementation, or at least some sort of trial period.
“It’s difficult to judge the effects of a decision when it has just been made,
Ahmed Ibrahim Abu-Gazya, Vice President of the Sixth of October’s Administrative Council told Daily News Egypt, “the question is: will it achieve what the people need or not? And this we will see in the effects. It isn’t logical to make a judgment on that now.
The borders of the new governorates and the surrounding ones will be drawn up next month by the Ministries of Housing and Agriculture.
“Fathi Saad can now focus his attention on development right up till Bahariya. Sixth of October city now has an economic base without a housing crisis, previously he had too many problems in Giza to focus solely on this, Sweidan said.
Sweidan also recommended that further restructuring take place, with the Greater Cairo governorate being split into three smaller ones, so “this way we can highlight the main issues in each and address them in an easier way.
Restructuring governorates is a positive thing.
Abu Gazya said, “Change is a part of life. Sixth of October city wasn’t what it was 20 years ago, and it won’t be what it is 20 years from now.