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A bridge too close: Cairo flyover angers residents

CAIRO — If Osama Fayez reaches out from his balcony he can touch a flyover that is cutting a swathe through a densely populated area of Giza, across the Nile from central Cairo.

The proximity of the bridge to residential apartments has sparked anger and ridicule on social media and among inhabitants who say they were misled.

It has also exposed a common source of tension as authorities try to develop and update infrastructure in a congested city of about 20 million where haphazard planning mixed in with informal housing has long been the norm.

On social media, some have joked that residents of blocks next to the new road could sell petrol or other supplies to passing motorists. But the residents themselves are dismayed.

“I put my whole life’s effort into this apartment,” said 44-year-old bank employee Fayez, who lives with his father on the fourth floor of a 12-story building.

Transport Minister Kamel El-Wazir told local TV a committee of engineering inspectors was examining the situation, and a possible solution might be to move any residents wishing to ‘replace’ their apartments into less noisy areas.

The committee’s “decision will come out very soon, but the bridge has to be built this way and can’t be smaller,” he added.

“I can’t look into a building or two or three and neglect the interest of a whole governorate…It is a national project.”

The flyover in the Giza suburb is a shortcut to a ringroad, part of a network of speedways meant to ease traffic in Cairo.

When building began a year ago residents were reassured that the flyover would be 4-5 meters away, Fayez said, reaching out to touch metal rods protruding from the unfinished structure.

“Later we were surprised to find that, after the foundations, they started laying the concrete and as you can see it is 40 or 50 cm away,” he said.

The transport ministry declined to comment and the housing ministry could not be reached for comment. The state press center did not respond to a request for comment.

Vivian Yousef, an accountant, said the district had been spoiled by over-construction, like some other Cairo areas.

Before, Yousef, 36, could see her two children get off the bus from her balcony. “Now, I cannot see the street at all,” she said. ($1 = 15.7400 Egyptian pounds) (Additional reporting by Nayera Abdallah Writing by Ulf Laessing Editing by Aidan Lewis, William Maclean)

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