President Mohamed Morsy visited the Upper Egyptian governorate of Assiut Friday to check on the progress of the EGP 4 billion aqueduct and hydroelectric water plant being constructed there.
He asked the team building the plant to complete construction faster than scheduled, state run MENA reported. The project was originally set for completion in four years and is meant to create 500 permanent jobs in addition to the 3,000 temporary ones it does now, according to the government.
Morsy then attended the Friday prayer service at Omar Makram mosque where he delivered a short speech after prayers.
“There is no room for those who try to block the nation’s path of reform and development. We must learn from the experiences of history and honour the values of truth and equality,” he told worshipers.
The visit is the latest in a series of Friday visits Morsy has been paying to several governorates outside Cairo intended to provide more direct communication with citizens and expose him to their problems.
They included visits to his home governorate of Sharqiya and most recently Matruh after which Morsy dismissed the governor following locals’ demands.
Morsy has been criticised for the number and behaviour of security forces he takes along on these visits, as well as when performing Friday prayers in Cairo mosques.
The Republican Guard, an Egyptian military division tasked with securing the presidency and republican institution as well as the paramilitary Central Security Forces attached to the Ministry of Interior normally used as riot police secure Morsy on these visits.
Security forces regularly impose cordons to prevent bystanders from approaching the president. On Friday they blocked entrances and exits of Assiut University, Assiut University Stadium and the Assiut Reservoir area which all lead to the site of the aqueduct project Morsy was visiting.
Security also prevented protesters with complaints from being on site and turned away a group of workers from the Assiut Cement Factory who were forced into early retirement and received a judicial sentence overturning the decision from asking Morsy to enforce the court order.
Only pre-approved worshipers on a Republican Guard list were allowed into Omar Makram mosque, much to the disdain of members of Morsy’s Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, and other Islamist groups, who could not meet the president.