World Bulletin / News Desk
Two entire villages along Egypt's Suez canal have been emptied to make way for a parallel canal that has been planned, leaving around 1,500 homes destroyed and a further 3,500 under threat.
According to a report in The Guardian, authorities are forcing villagers in Abtal and Qantara from their homes without giving them any compensation, despite promises that the 'New Suez Canal' project will bring prosperity to the region.
25-year-old farmer Ibrahim el-Sayed told The Guardian that the army evicted him and his three small children from their home. They are now sheltering in a makeshift hut.
"We told them that we'd have to live in the street but they answered that this is not our problem," he explained, adding that his brother was arrested for arguing with the soldiers along with others who did the same.
The army reportedly claimed the land belongs to them, but villagers said it was the first they had heard of such talk since they settled there three decades ago after Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai peninsula.
Lawyer Sherine al-Haddad in a statement said, "It's the army who is taking the action against those people, but it's not their fault – it's the fault of the Suez Canal Authority which gave the army maps saying that the area is an empty one."
The Bahraini-based consortium Dar Group (Al-Shair and Partners) and its Egyptian subsidiary, Dar al-Handasah, were awarded the contract worth some $1.8 billion to draw up the master plan for Egypt's Suez Canal development project after beating competitors in terms of technical requirements.
The consortium is now expected to submit its master plan for the project within six months so it might be subject to "societal debate" for two months before work can begin on project infrastructure, Suez Canal Authority Chairman Mohab Mamish told press conference in August.
One of Egypt's most high-profile development projects, the Suez Canal Corridor Development is expected to economically revitalize Egypt's canal zone, turning it into an international logistical and industrial hub.
The announcement came two weeks after President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi announced that Egypt would dig a $4-billion, 72km waterway – to run parallel to the Suez Canal – to facilitate maritime traffic between the Red and Mediterranean seas.
Mamish said the Egyptian army would dig the new canal within three years. This, however, was later reduced to one year upon al-Sisi's orders.
As a result of the project, a number of factories and service projects are expected to be set up in the area, creating new sources of foreign currency.
The project was first floated by the government of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, but had met objections from Egypt's military, which had cited concerns at the time over "national security."Last Mod: 04 Eylül 2014, 15:18