Microbuses as the curse of Cairo traffic?
Well, we do hate them but, they’re an incredibly powerful and informal system, Slum-like conditions in the ‘ashwa’iat. On the other hand, the slums, surprisingly; unlike what we most think, are almost connected to water systems.
With all the crowded jams, Cairiens tend to succeed in using the public transportation, it is affordable and efficient (if you count microbuses as efficient). The city remains extraordinarily compact. Moreover, despite their informal status, homeowners in the ashwa’iat feel relatively secure in their property titles.
The irony of Cairo is that its relative functionality is not the result of an enlightened government plans. In other words, the most heavily-inhabited parts of Cairo, unlike New Cairo or 6th of October City, have developed almost independent of government plans.
Maybe the city can turn away from the delusional engineering that promoted the failed desert cities like Tushka, and instead embrace a friendly approach that invests in real, inhabited communities inside Cairo.
So, why not re-imagine the urban CORE of Cairo. For example, some real estate companies are looking at the extraordinary renovation potential in Cairo’s old yet elegant downtown. Old buildings could be turned into large parkings or whatever’s efficient to this busy city.
There is a growing interest of the importance of the Nile as a means of transportation. There’s the government Nile ferry and a private business now called the Nile Taxi.
Seems, that whenever we are fed up of this city we tend to think about the desert. But such grand visions of social engineering nearly always fail. For thousands of years, Egyptians have lived on the banks of the Nile; there’s no reason to think that now is the time to change this. For one of the world’s largest cities, Cairo has an impressive functionality of a humming bee. It’s time to direct Cairo’s growth energy into the urban areas where we ALREADY ACTUALLY LIVE, and leave the imaginary plans for populating the desert. Maybe we could only use the desert for more artistic things.
We don’t understand this city yet.