Traffic in downtown Cairo is unbelievable!
I’m no longer intimidated by the constant stream of cars, trucks, motorcycles, donkey carts, vehicles of all sorts, and all the noisy horns. Now I step right out into traffic and dare them to a game of chicken. I win every time!
Cairo is growing rapidly. The greater Cairo urban region exceeds 20 million people, the largest urban area on this continent. My taxi driver said it is growing by 500,000 each year. It would be a severe understatement to say that transportation is challenging. Imagine being a transportation planner!
There has been some thought given to Cairo’s future urban form. The Cairo 2050 Plan was initiated under Mubarak’s regime. I’m going to try to find an urban planner who can shed some light on it for me, but I have found a Critique online that makes me think the Cairo 2050 Plan may have bit the dust.
Cairo 2050, if followed, would create more socioeconomic inequality and increase traffic congestion by pushing lower-income residents to the periphery of the city, and reducing the environmental sustainability the city presently has. Moreover this document was created in isolation and is a classic example of outdated top-down planning.
In September 2011, another critic wrote that no one wants to associate with the Cairo 2050 Plan.
The $3.5 million study that outlined Cairo’s problems and the way to deal with them for the next generation or so is metaphorically in the dock along with the major figures of the NDP. In real life, the study is gathering dust in the drawers of the prestigious organisations that have helped put it together since 2007: the UNDP, UNHABITAT, the World Bank, Germany’s (former) GTZ, and Japan’s JICA. Cairo 2050’s local mastermind, the GOPP (General Organisation for Physical Planning), is quite reticent about it. When pressed by reporters, GOPP officials now dismiss the plan as “just an outline” or even a “dream”.
Frederick Deknatel has a very good piece in the current issue of The Nation about Cairo and the 2050 Plan, available here.