After borrowing money, receiving loans, and the burden of almost daily visits to banks in order to conclude the procedures for receiving social housing units from the Mortgage Finance Fund (MFF) and the city council for 6th of October City, the new owners are now facing a great deal of problems after signing a contract with the city council to complete their units.
Many lower-income citizens have dreamed of moving into the long-anticipated affordable government housing; however, the reality has not lived up to expectations or the promises of the government.
Due to the units being finished very poorly, about 200 owners and residents demonstrated in front of the Armed Forces Engineering Authority’s technical office in Dahshour. They demanded that the defects and poor-quality finish in the units be fixed for the first phase of social housing.
These owners also submitted some general complaints related to finishing, landscaping, lighting, and cleanliness to the Armed Forces Engineering Authority. This is besides the lack of schools, libraries, and medical services—a medical centre is being constructed but it is still unequipped and therefore not operational—and unfinished gas lines and telephone services which is compounded by the fact that mobile networks services are incredibly weak in this area, too. The mall has not been opened yet, so there are no shops or pharmacies to serve the population who just moved to a rather remote area.
During a tour of the units, Daily News Egypt talked to Nasser Kamal Mahmoud Enetar, who is a safety inspector. Enetar said that he refused to receive his unit due to the poor quality finishing, especially cracks in the bathroom and the floors, damage to the doors, and a poor or unfinished paint-job.
Mohamed Farouk is a teacher and one of the few families who already lived in the district. He said that his family’s unit has many defects, such as problems in the plumbing system, large cracks in the ceramic tile, and weak and poor quality wood for the doors. Furthermore, there is no garbage collection for the buildings yet, so residents have to go to the main road and put their rubbish there. As of yet, there are still no shops open, except for a club with a EGP 5 entry fee.
The Armed Forces Engineering Authority had sub-contracted a large number of construction companies and contractors for the project. Therefore, the authority responded to complaints by saying that owners of units must contact the contractor for repairs.
Residents have also pointed out that the finishing in some buildings is actually high quality, especially the ones the president was attending for the inauguration of the housing project, which has been dubbed “the square of the visit”.
Sahar Mahmoud is also a teacher and said that the unit allocated to her has significant problems, such as poorly-fitted ceramic tiles that have fallen, and weak, flimsy doors.
Mohamed Hassan, an accountant at the Agricultural Reclamation Authority, signed his contract in February but did not receive his unit. After a long inquiry into the matter, the city council asked him to sign another contract in April because the first contract had gone missing. However, he still hasn’t received his unit. Other residents at the housing project advised him to find an “intermediary” in the city council in order to speed up the process.
Only 20 families have moved into their units in the area so far, said Atef who is a guard for one of the buildings there.
Despite its illegality, Atef stated that some residents sub-rent their units for EGP 700 per month. Brokers have also started approaching those who had paid the down-payment for their units, in order to buy the units off them. The down-payment stands at about EGP 40,000, and brokers are offering almost double the amount.
Essam Kamal said that there have been water leaks in his building, and the quality of plumbing is too low to be acceptable. He also thinks that the soil and foundation below the building is unstable. “This may result in a catastrophe that threatens the future of our children,” he asserted. “It’s as if the government insisted on not allowing us our dream of decent housing.”
Mohamed El-Sayed is an employee at Mahgoub for ceramic and porcelain. He said that there are no green spaces in the area. He thinks that it is likely that the empty plots of land between buildings will become a dumping ground for uncollected rubbish.
An official at the Armed Forces Engineering Authority has said that the land is not suitable for planting, although when the president visited the project, there were green spaces.
In addition to that, there is a lack of shops to serve the actual residents who have already lived in the units.
Assmaa Abdel Fattah, a homemaker, said that around the building where she lives there are exposed pipes filled with sewage, which is dangerous for her children. There is also a leak in the public water pipe to the units.
Head of the technical office at the Armed Forces Engineering Authority Amgad Ramadan is responsible for the implementation and supervision of finishing the units in Dahshour. He said that any problem with regards to the finishing of the unit should be referred to the contractor, then to a technical engineer. In the case that this route yields no response, residents should then contact the Engineering Authority.
Regarding the lack of forestation or green areas, Ramadan said that the soil in the area is not arable so planting could lead to water leaks under the buildings.
The majority of the complaints have been about poor-quality materials in the units, to which Ramadan replied that finances were limited for the social housing project. Therefore, contactors had to buy raw materials within the budget.
“Each units costs EGP 135,000 and the contractor finishes the unit for EGP 110,000; this is very cheap compared to other units in different areas. It is to be expected that the raw materials used for these low-cost units are not the best quality,” Ramadan added. “The poor-quality finishing is also due the fact that workers had to be transferred to start new projects in other areas.”
He confessed that some buildings were allocated more funding and are therefore of better quality and more distinguished—such as the units the president visited.
The city council is responsible for providing all services to the units, he explained. The Engineering Authority is in charge of construction, painting, carpentry, and finishing the units. “Any problems related to water and sanitation, or ceramics should be dealt with by the Engineering Authority.”
Deputy of the city council Mohamed Abdel Maksoud said the MFF and the Engineering Authority are responsible for assigning a company to carry out maintenance services for a deposit of EGP 6,000, as is stated in the contract.
Cleanliness of the streets and the area is the city council’s responsibility. A sanitation company will be chosen via a tender within the next three months. As much of the project is still under construction, the city council’s landscaping plan will come in the next phase after establishing irrigation networks.
Gas lines are the responsibility of the Engineering Authority; however, there have been problems despite signing a protocol between the MFF and the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) to connect the gas lines to the social housing units. The city council is responsible for paying the cost of gas delivery for EGAS, and then collecting service fees from residents.
“Two schools will be built to be ready for the beginning of the next academic year,” Abdel Maksoud said. “With regards to transportation, the city council has obtained approval from the Giza governorate for a licence for 500 vehicles to serve Hadayek October residents. The vehicles will be ready in two or three months at most.”