The New York Times published an extensive report on the Egyptian government’s decision to demolish and forcibly remove floating homes on the Nile, and fine their owners large sums of money.
The newspaper had interviewed some of the residents of these homes, which may be the last week before they were removed from existence.
She pointed out that these floating wooden houses on the banks of the Nile in central Cairo, which represent a tradition of life since the 19th century, are today threatened with demolition after a sudden decision by the government on the grounds that they are unsafe and unlicensed.
More than half of the 32 homes, connected to mainland Cairo by lush riverside gardens, have already been destroyed or towed away to scrap yards, the newspaper reported. At least 14 homes have disappeared on Tuesday alone, with the rest set to be disposed of.
She commented that with the demise of these houses, the remnants of a glittering history will disappear quickly, as these houses hosted singers and discos in which Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz wrote one of his novels, and famous films took place on another board.
Life on the riverbank was quiet, airy, and private, unlike the frenetic and dusty metropolitan life whose floating houses had captured her imagination for so long.
Although the government has provided little information about its plans for the riverbank, residents say authorities have pressured increasingly in recent years to replace residential boats with floating cafes and restaurants, which is in line with their plans to modernize many Cairo neighborhoods and profit by handing them over to private developers or Army
Although the government has provided little information about its plans for the riverbank, residents say the authorities have increasingly pressured in recent years to replace residential boats with floating cafes and restaurants, which is in line with their plans to modernize many Cairo neighborhoods and profit by handing them over to private developers or The army demolished many historical neighborhoods to build high-rise buildings, new roads and bridges.
She added that for decades, successive rulers of Egypt tried to transport the boats, but the owners were able to negotiate with the authorities. Over the past five years, the government has raised fees or changed regulations several times, and finally stopped renewing boat licenses two years ago.
Now officials are using the lack of permits to justify the demolitions, even though residents say it was these officials who refused to renew those permits.
The newspaper concluded – after interviewing many owners of floating houses – that this legacy they represent is not necessarily the kind that the government wants to announce, which may explain why the authorities recently alluded, in justifying the demolitions, to the use of boats for immoral purposes.
She pointed out that because of their distance from the noise of Cairo, these private spaces floated in a confusing scene, providing some Cairenes with a haven through which they could drink wine, take drugs and mingle freely in the heart of a very conservative city, which is what appeared to strangers in some of the novels of Naguib Mahfouz, who owned a floating house. close to his apartment.