Luxor villagers sue Egypt over planned Nile port
Cairo, March 17, 2010
Villagers from southern Egypt's Luxor are suing the state over plans for a port on the Nile, which is a site of nearly 2,000 homes, a lawyer representing them said.
The estimated $1 billion port aims to provide docks for more than 180 Nile cruise boats as part of a project to revamp Luxor, the site of ancient Thebes, whose antiquities attract hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.
The port would take 500 feddans (210 hectares) of land from villagers in el-Maris and displace at least 10,000 people, said residents who oppose the plan despite promises of compensation.
Abdel Aty, one of the group's lawyers, said the port plan violates an article of the Egyptian constitution which says private property may not be expropriated "except for the general good and against a fair compensation as defined by law".
"This project is not for the general good, it's an investment project," Aty said, adding they would also challenge the project on procedural grounds.
The group has proposed an alternative plan to build the port further upriver, preserving Maris and the surrounding area.
"We are not against development, we are not against the port. We are against them destroying the land and moving the original people from their places," said Nasser el-Nubi, a spokesman for the group.
An official presentation on the Luxor project does not say who is funding the project nor how many homes would be moved.
The group's first hearing is due on May 26, and the villagers hope to press 64 suits on behalf of Maris residents, Abdel Aty said.
Egypt has already moved thousands of homes as part of the project to refurbish Luxor, launched more than three years ago.
In 2006 and 2007 Egypt demolished and relocated Gurna, a village near the Valley of the Kings, to access and preserve tombs buried beneath nearly 3,200 homes.
Egypt's chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass said in January a plan to restore an avenue of sphinxes that once linked temples in Luxor and Karnak would involve moving and compensating at least 2,000 families. – Reuters