Egypt constructs highways across pyramids plateau, conservationists raise concerns
Under the leadership of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Egypt is constructing two highways around the Great Pyramids plateau outside Cairo in a bid to boost infrastructure in the region. The northern highway is planned to cross the desert 1.6 miles south of the Great Pyramids, while the Southern highway will be passing between the oldest pyramid – Step Pyramid of Saqqara and the Dahshur area – home to the Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid. As per media reports, each highway seems to be approximately eight lanes wide. Dividing the plateau into three parts, the highways will also cross through a section of the ancient city of Memphis.
While the Egyptian government is aiming to strengthen transportation links and reshape Cairo with the project, environmentalists and conservationists have voiced that the highways could damage one of the world’s most significant heritage sites. Egyptologists have also raised concerns over the disruption of the integrity of the pyramids plateau and exposing of closed areas to looters. They have also said that the construction of highways will generate pollution that could potentially harm the monuments.
However, Mostafa al-Waziri, the secretary-general of Egypt’s supreme council of antiquities, spoke to media and affirmed that the roads are very important for the development of the country and its people, adding that good care is being taken of the antiquities sites around the construction site. According to reports, Egypt is also working on a New Administrative Capital as part of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s urban vision to transfer the centre of the country’s political power to a new capital which will be about 45km east of Cairo.
The construction of the controversial highways has been reportedly going on for over a year. Noting the developments around the Pyramids plateau, UNESCO has also called the Egyptian government to provide detailed information on the new plan a number of times. The Giza plateau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.At the same, Giza Plateau’s first restaurant is also under the final phase of construction aimed at benefitting the tourists visiting the site.