Al-Masry Al-Youm has obtained photos and plans on the development of the Abul Ela bridge and the corniche in the area stretching between Sabteyya and Rod al-Farag districts.
The development includes reusing the bridge as a tourist site for arts, in addition to an open museum, theater for 600 people and parking for 800 cars.
“Since the bridge was dismantled in 1998, many calls have been demanding reusing the bridge for its historic value,” said Cairo Governor Galal al-Saeed.
“The then-Culture Minister Farouk Hosni called for reusing the bridge as an atelier, as in European countries. However, the Irrigation Ministry rejected the location set by Hosni, next to Zamalek theater, for presence of the 6 October bridge bases,” Saeed added.
“In 2008, the governorate offered a competition for local and international engineering offices over turning the bridge into a place for culture and arts. Thirteen regional and local offices applied for the competition. The best works were selected by a specialized committee of Cairo University Faculty of Engineering professors, in collaboration with the National Organization for Urban Harmony (NOUH). A project proposed by an Egyptian company was selected. The place for project was set before the World Trade Center, on the Rod al-Farag corniche, parallel to the Nile,” he said.
According to Saeed, the planning and design of the project depend on turning it to a bridge for arts, museum for artistic and cultural shows and theater in the form of a crystal, so the Nile would be seen in the background. “The outer part of the bridge will be a tourist place including exhibitions, restaurants, cafes and bazaars. Local materials will be used to be similar to those used when the bridge was established.”
“Due to the long distance of the project, it will be sent to the National Water Research Center to consider the selection of the project place and ensure that it does not affect navigation,” Saeed said. The company working on the design has finished the designing so another company would be selected to carry out the project.
Saeed added that former International Cooperation Minister Fayza Abul Naga earlier approved affording half of the project costs. However, the project was stopped by then due to difficulties with the funding. “We will look for investors to carry out the project through usufruct for specific time, after that its ownership goes to the governorate again,” Saeed said expecting costs to reach LE700 million.
Soheir Hawas, adviser to NOUH, said the project proposed is the best to reuse the bridge, as it cannot be used only by cars as it was.
“It was also proposed to turn it to passers-by bridge. However, allocating it for cultural activity is the best,” she added.
Regarding calls on the governorate to carry out the project instead of investors, Hawwas said, “the government has so many burdens. We should take advantage of every way to ease those burdens. We could set guarantees or conditions on investors to urge them preserve and maintain the project or even form committee to review its condition every year, given that the bridge is an antiquity, although being unregistered. It’s historical value is well-known.”
Abul Ela bridge was established on the Nile river linking between Zamalek and Bulaq abul Ela districts. Its construction started in 1908 and was opened in 1912 under rule of Khedive Abbas Helmy.