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Egypt destroys trees in Cairo to build floating restaurant, car park

A view of the Nile river in Egypt's capital Cairo on 26 November 2019 [AMIR MAKAR/AFP via Getty Images]
A view of the Nile river in Egypt's capital Cairo on 26 November 2019 [AMIR MAKAR/AFP/Getty Images]

The Egyptian government is bulldozing trees in Cairo to clear space to build a floating restaurant and car park.

As the government pushes ahead with sweeping urban redevelopment projects across Cairo, ficus, acacia and palm trees have been razed to the ground and highways have been built through historic neighbourhoods.

At the end of September authorities began removing Lotus, a public garden in the suburb of Madinet Nasr, to replace it with a car park.

Between August 2019 and January 2020, the Heliopolis neighbourhood lost almost 400,000 square metres of green space, the equivalent of 50 football fields, raising environmental concerns as trees help reduce pollution and lower temperatures in the city.

The space has been cleared as the government is building six new highways leading to Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's flagship project, the new administrative capital.

Egypt's state-run Al-Ahram has reported that these highways have cost around $450 million.

READ: Egypt clinches $3bn funding deal with IMF

As is common during the destruction of these green spaces, residents are not consulted and often wake up one day to find a barricade and a bulldozer chopping the trees down.

Rights groups have said that the Egyptian government has given no explanation as to why so much green space must be razed and how it is related to development plans.

At the same time, these mega projects are not sensitive to the environment. Whilst the government has sold its new capital as a green city, with a green space twice the size of New York's Central Park, the amount of waste, energy and water required for the development is not necessarily saving energy resources.

The destruction of green space in Egypt has been ongoing for several years. In 2018 members of parliament called for new measures to protect trees.

At that time authorities were razing trees in Nasr City, in Mokattam, in Ismailia and in New Heliopolis to make way for new residential areas, larger roads and bridges.

Environmental issues in Egypt are increasingly under the microscope as COP27 approaches, hosted this year in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh.

READ: Revolution is in the air at Sisi's climate conference

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AfricaCOP27EgyptInternational OrganisationsNews
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