Mohamed Abdullah - Cairo

The Egyptian government's decision that the construction companies should return to work at full capacity in all locations was a surprise to observers after a previous decision to reduce work in the sector in order to preserve the lives of workers.

The decision came despite the disruption of work in many sectors and agencies such as tourism, education, courts, real estate and traffic, and its reduction in other sectors.

Last Wednesday, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly stressed the necessity of contracting companies to work at full capacity in all locations, taking precautionary and preventive measures to counter the Corona virus, noting that construction and building are among the most important sectors that provide job opportunities, and more than 90 industries are linked to it.

The decision comes two days after Egyptian businessman and billionaire Naguib Sawiris threatened to commit suicide if the Egyptian government decided to extend the curfew and stop work due to the Corona virus.

Some major construction companies pledged during a meeting with the Minister of Housing Assem Al-Jazzar that they would accept their return to work in national projects by paying the full dues of contractors for the previous periods, which the Minister of Housing responded with by spending 3.5 billion pounds for this purpose, to confirm the companies that they are not talking about part of the dues, but rather On the full arrears with the government and approaching ten billion pounds (the dollar is 15.7 pounds), according to the local housing website.

The site specialized in the real estate sector added that, before the contractors ’requests, the Minister of Housing did not find a temporary promise to consider them, as he requested that the amounts owed to them be fully calculated, to be presented to the Prime Minister and then submitted to the President of the Republic, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, to make a decision regarding it and try to provide the amount What is required to resume work is more than the powers of the minister and prime minister.

It is scheduled that the "Arascom Construction Company" affiliated with the Sawiris family will resume work on the project of the new cabinet building inside the administrative capital, after stopping it for two weeks as a precautionary measure as a result of the spread of the Corona virus, and that its workers will reside in the administrative capital for a month, according to the "Mada Egypt" website (independent).

A health plan must be provided by the contracting companies that will resume work (Al-Jazeera)

Reducing the number of workers
On March 23, the percentage of employment in various locations in the new administrative capital was halved, according to press statements by the president of the Administrative Capital Company, Ahmed Zaki Abdin, who said that "not a single project in the new administrative capital is suspended, but employment rates have been reduced, and that Among the measures to address the spread of the Corona virus. "

The relative distribution of workers - according to the most important economic activities during the second quarter of 2019 - shows that the construction activity achieved the second largest participation rate for workers, as their number in this activity reached nearly 3.9 million workers, or 13.8% of the total workers, and it is one of the fastest growing sectors Besides extracting natural gas, tourism and real estate investment, according to the World Bank.

The Al-Jazeera Net correspondent in Cairo monitored the continuation of contracting activity in many locations in the Giza region, whether in the private sector as lots lots - where there are no contracting companies but there are contractors working individually - or in the public sector of the Ministry of Housing, such as the Dar Masr and Sakan Misr projects and others Projects.

And one of the contractors - Uncle Salama - said that "work is continuing in many locations, but at a much lower rate, and some workers do not want to sit at home, and do not have the luxury of sitting, and there are no safeguards from Corona or others, handed over to God."

Difficulty in decision

Member of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Federation for Construction and Building Contractors Eng. Mohamed Abdel Raouf said, "The government and the media are telling us throughout the day and night about the necessity of unnecessary home, reducing the size of the workforce, and stopping it in other sectors. Why, then, they are asking contracting workers to get out at full capacity, we must provide them first Protection methods, because they live in small, crowded rooms, and most of them are from the provinces. "

In his interview with Al-Jazeera Net, Abdel-Raouf stressed that the decision to suspend work is difficult, and its resumption is also difficult, but a health plan must be provided by contracting companies that will resume work at full capacity.

He pointed out that there is no mechanism to monitor the companies ’commitment to whether or not to provide the necessary protection to workers, but every company owner bears his responsibility not to cause harm to anyone.

Abdel-Raouf added that "stopping the contracting will create a financial crisis for millions of workers who will not be able to live and companies will not be able to provide wages for them."

“Al-Sanai’i (the Egyptian worker) works with sustenance in his day and does not tend to save, and there are many of them who will not accept benefits, and will not accept sitting at home even if the company asks them to do so, because according to the statements of some of them,“ I am like this is dead, if I go to death from hunger, ”Abd added. Compassionate.

Military decision
Tariq Morsi, a member of the Manpower Committee in the former Egyptian Shura Council, commented, "I believe that the government's insistence that the contracting sector continue to operate at full capacity is a purely military decision, as are all strategic decisions to complete projects, whether related to the UAE sponsor or Sisi himself, regardless of the safety of thousands Laborers".

In statements to Al Jazeera Net, Morsi expressed his belief that the construction, building and contracting works are not absolutely necessary at the present time, except for Sisi believing in his necessity as the new administrative capital, and in response to the desire of businessmen and investors and the system’s footnote, the government is not the center of decision-making, but its implementation only.

He added that "there are no longer active businessmen in any sector in the state, neither in contracting nor in others. Perhaps there are businessmen actually, but they are either civilian fronts of the army such as businessman Ahmed Abu Hashima and others, while others are beneficiaries of work under his umbrella."