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New Infrastructure Project Puts Government and Residents at Loggerheads

The City of the Dead lies inside Historic Cairo, a heritage area subject to its own particular rules when it comes to tearing down buildings or putting up new ones. Created as a burial site in the 7th century, it has slowly morphed into one of the country’s largest slums, home to more than 1.5-million people, according to the latest official data. As more Egyptians migrated to the capital in search of work and opportunity, they carved out makeshift homes between the low tombs and soaring domes, squeezing family between ancient walls engraved by long-dead calligraphers. The government says it will ensure those uprooted get alternative housing but has given no details; for their part, residents say they stand to lose precious jobs as well as homes. Amr Abdel Hady, whose Central Agency for Construction is co-running the project, said the 17km bridge aims to reduce traffic and save time and fuel for motorists. The new zone, being built on the outskirts of Cairo, aims to accommodate 6.5-million residents and ease traffic. No specific figures are available about the number of people displaced, nor can officials assuage local fears; business owners say they have been offered no compensation to move.