Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi stressed the need to raise awareness about the dangers of building on agricultural lands, warning that thousands of jobs could be lost due to this phenomenon.
Al-Sisi made his remarks on Wednesday during the opening ceremony of a petrol production complex at the Assiut Oil Refining Company (ASORC), in addition to various development projects within the Upper Egypt region.
“We can build more new cities, but the issue lies in the culture of our people in Upper Egypt and the Delta and their willingness to leave their houses that were built on agricultural lands and go to those [new] cities. This is the challenge that we must focus on,” said the president.
He added that during the past 70 years many agricultural lands were seized by construction despite the limited area, stressing that increasing urban estates must go hand in hand with providing job opportunities.
Moreover, Al-Sisi said that the establishment of new cities aims to attract people to live in them while providing investment opportunities and building industrial cities to provide job opportunities that absorb more labour.
He also noted that the old lands along the Nile River are already existing and do not cost the state the reclamation and construction of infrastructure, and therefore they must be preserved in parallel with the move to add new agricultural lands, to compensate for what we lost as a result of building on those old lands.
“The cost of reclamation per feddan ranges between EGP 250,000 and 300,000. These new lands do not even have the same quality and fertility of the black lands,” he said.
In another context, the president highlighted the issue of overpopulation, saying that the culture of having many children should be changed. He stressed that no more ration cards will be provided to newly married people.
Al-Sisi expressed hope that the government could establish required hospitals and schools nationwide, and raise the monthly income of citizens to EGP 10,000 or 20,000.