CAIRO: Architect Mamdouh Hamza downplayed a decision by governor of Aswan Mostafa El-Sayed to refer all projects under his firm’s supervision to the general prosecution for investigation after allegedly discovering irregularities in the designs his firm submitted to build homes for the flood victims in the southern governorate.
“This is a decision by a person who has lost his reason,” Hamza told Daily News Egypt.
“I believe his decision stems from vengeance.”
In March, the governorate seized the 100-acre piece of land it had previously donated to Hamza to build 880 homes for victims who lost their homes in floods last January.
According to state news portal egynews.net, El-Sayed requested the investigation of Hamza’s current projects in Aswan, which include sewage and drinking water developments.
“This does not affect us directly. The investigation will only affect the National Association for Sewage and Drinking Water. I am just a consultant not a contractor,” Hamza explained.
In his statement Wednesday, El-Sayed said that Hamza operates projects in Abu Simbel, Kalabasha, El-Kagog, Komombo, El Seba’eya and Drow alongside sewage systems in El ‘Elaqy, the area designated to build homes for flood victims.
The projects Hamza oversees are valued at LE 3 billion, according to the Aswan governor.
“[The investigation] will not affect residents of Aswan. What will affect them, however, is the continuous halt of the building of homes for the flood victims,” Hamza said.
Calls by Daily News Egypt to El-Sayed’s office were unanswered by press time.
Flash floods and heavy rain last January left 10 dead in Sinai and southern Egypt. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, mainly in the city of Aswan and the North Sinai town of Al-Arish.
Alongside the construction site, the governorate seized control of the bank account where millions of pounds were donated by ministers, celebrities and companies from around the Arab world in February through a campaign led by television presenter Amr Adib.
In a press conference in April, Hamza slammed the decision as a “[personal] defamation and a blow to grassroots initiatives … There is a monopoly over charity work,” he said.
The Egyptian government was strongly criticized for its inability to deal with the aftermath of the natural disaster, prompting angry reactions from those affected and igniting efforts from civil society.
As part of the grass-roots initiative, Hamza had offered to design the homes free of charge.
After the dispute, the project was handed down to a national architectural firm.
El-Sayed protested Hamza’s decision not to use steel foundations for building. Meanwhile, Hamza maintained that his designs, which mapped one-level houses using red bricks, adhere to local architectural features and do not require such foundations.
“Homes in this area have been built this way a million times. You can get a peasant and he will build this way. We have professionals,” Hamza told journalists in April.
In addition, the governor disputed the fact that the Islamic Mowasa Association, under which the collected funds are kept, received funds from abroad, which he said breaches the law.
El-Sayed also protested signing with the firm Hamza Associates without holding a public bid.