Constructing a ring road exit by the people in Egypt

Available in: :gb: English / :ar: Arabic

:gb: English version

If you are moving on the ring road in the area between "26 of july "and “Saft Ellaban” you will pass by Al Mu’tamidia exit ramp . This exit is a bit different than any other exit on the ring road as it is not done by the government , It is done by the people of Al Mu’tamidia during the 3 months of the collapse of the secuirty apparatus after Moubarak ouster.

To know the story from the begining: Al Mu’tamidia is like any other informal settlement in Cairo is cut off from the main road beside it and don’t have access to it and this leads to daily transportation problems but people always manage to find pop up solutions by building small stairs leading to the ring road where there is always “informal” microbuses stations.and this is accompanied by more small interventions like tea stands ,coffee shops and car repair points.

The people of Al Mu’tamidia needed to build this exit from a long time ago and when the chance opened for constructing it they took the chance during the “temporary collapse of local authorities “.

That project is a huge project that costed 1 million Egyptian pounds, including 4 ramps like the official exits from the ring road, and people of Al Mu’tamidia contributed to it with effort, money and expertise through a local community initiative called "Al Mu’tamidia baladna” which means “Al Mu’tamidia is our country” .They documented the process of construction in a video and after finishing the exit they invited the local authorities to come and inaugurate the exit.

That was a scene from a big scale urban intervention in Cairo which “we” knew about it from the amazing work of cluster , you can know more about these interventions and more in this publication which is the source of this story.

##:ar: Arabic version
لو انت ماشى على الدائرى فى المنطقه بين محور 26 يوليو و صفط اللبن ,حتعدى على نزله المعتمديه . النزله دى مختلفه عن باقى نزلات الدائرى ,دى مش الحكومه اللى عملاها دى اللى عملها اهالى منطقه المعتمديه فى التلات شهور اللى بعد سقوط مبارك اهالى المعتمديه انتهزوا فرصه انيهار الاجهزه الامنيه و عملوا نزله من على الطريق الدائرى

المعتمديه زيها زى مناطق كتير غير رسميه مقطوعه عن الطريق السريع اللى جمبها وده بيسببلهم مشكله يوميه فى المواصلات بس الناس عموما دايما بيلاقوا حلول بسيطه للمشاكل دى زى بنا شويه سلالم بتودى لمحطات الميكروباص غير الرسميه و ده دايما بيبقى مصاحبه نصبه شاى ,قهوه ومحلات تصليح سيارات.

المشروع ده مش صغير دول 4 نزلات زى النزلات الرسميه كلف مليون جنيه و ساهم فيه اهالى المنطقه مع جمعيه المعتمديه بلدنا . مش بس كده دول سجلوا المشروع كله فى فيديو وبعتوا دعوه بيه للمحافظ و رئيس الشرطه لافتتاح النزله.

ده كان مشهد من التدخلات الغير رسميه فى العمران المصرى عرفنا عن طريق كلستر و ممكن تعرف اكتر عن طريق المطبوعه

دى اللى هى مصدر الرئيسى للقصه


This takes DIY to a whole new level

I have a really hard time seeing something like this happening in my hometown and keep watching the video over and over. Wow.

Do you have any idea who started the initiative, and how did they manage to get so many people on board? Any idea how they raised the money? 

Great, great story!

The video is super-inspiring! I’m writing a post about it on my own blog. I’ll cross post here when it’s ready.

Just curious: how was the situation with the authorities negotiated? You can’t do this sort of of thing overnight. Did they not need to block or restrict traffic for weeks, at a minimum? Someone must have called the police, and the police must have decided not to intervene. Any information on this?


My reaction is similar to that of Alberto and Nadia- quiet incredible!  One question though (and it goes along similar lines of the one Alberto has asked)- as a result of your action, what has been the response of the local authorities?  What has been the response of other civic groups and communities, if any, that are faced with the similar issues?

I don’t have the whole story

actually I don’t have the full story , I am trying to contact cluster because they are the ones who made this research and conducted interviews with the local residents

for my opinion about that I think the intiation of the project was done by "El M’tmedia balada " .

and for that time after Moubarak ouster the Police had a very limited control on people and for the construction work they were professional as the video shows there was signs and everything :smiley: I don’t think people realized that it was illegal .

and the reaction of authoroties was not expected but this was in a very especial time and here I quote from the publication" as a result of the community’s solicitation and at the peak of state’s vulnerability the Giza governorate officially integrated the new on and off ramps into the city infrastructure celebrating the initiative of the revolutionary citizens and designating the area under the highway at the site of a traffic police station"

in a normal case that  would be considered illegal but may be it would have been hard to demolish the ramp

I don’t see an intervension with the same scale happening now , but there are alot of urban violations like increasing the floors of the buildings -which in some cases are very dangerous-  that happens regularly in alot of places and it 's hard to demolish such violations .

Well, this gets the prize :slight_smile:

“I don’t think people realized that it was illegal.”

It sounds crazy, but it may be the simplest explanation. Especially in troubled times, a traffic policeman noticing roadworks that they were not notified about might simply assume some glitch in communication. Incredible!


Guys just to tell you this story lives on and travels, and it seems our brains can’t really understand how it all happened. It’s plain unbelievable. I have shared it today with protesters in Tbilisi and their question was how many people took part in this? how did they raise the money?  Pinging :)

this never goes old

well also I will put my prespective as an egyptian for raising the money issue . It 's not a problem If u have some "trusted "people or board of trustees .

donating money is part of the informal economy in Egypt and there is always these trusted people to give the money to so I guess it was done through these people in EL Ma’temediya  .

to put u more into context . like in each neighbourhood there is alawys this old man - or trusted person- that people trust him to give him their ZAKAA ( it is the amount of money muslims have to give for charity) and he has his network so he can give it to those who are in need . Also these guys can be involved in raising money for such projects ( not with the zakaa money ) but they are trusted and people know if they gave them their money it will be used in the intended cause

another economical model is used also based on trust is called EL GAMA’IA it is when a group of people decide to collect money with each other without any banks or any official stuff . ( let’s say 10 people each month for 10 months give 100 pounds to the one responsible and each month someone gets the 1000 pounds and it rotates till all of the 10 people got the 1000 pounds ) it is has its own rules and regulations but the most importat one is the trust issue , u can enter one of these system if u are trusted or recommended by a “trusted” person

and people actually get the money to marry for example using this method

I hope this gave u more about the economical context of fundraising for such projects . :slight_smile: actually for me the most astonishing part wasn’t the money was the action itself and the sense of ownership that made them do this

and I hope this keeps inspiring us and we keep learning from it as much as possible

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How to use resources

a beautiful example of how the existing resources can be used and mobilised once we escape the “market” ways of thinking - it shows that almost everything one needs to improve and make life better is actually already there, and there are ways to overpass the limits is there is will and need. The need is there anyways. Beyond the idea of private and gain. This idea is extremely important in the ways we deal with the housing crisis in the world - we have what we need, 11 million empty houses all across Europe and 5 million homeless people - that is an information showing a very clear direction towards change.

For context: 1 million EGP = 128k USD

One piece of information that makes this story even more awesome: 1 million Egyptian Pounds is equivalent to about 128 000 USD or 117 000 EUR. For that money, in Europe, you can’t build much of anything …

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