At Abdel Moneim Riyad Square, right in front of the Cabertage in Helwan, a 900-millimeter-wide pipe has cracked, causing a sudden collapse in the ground above it and leaving a massive, muddy hole in its place.
The crack seems to have occurred Monday at some time between 7 and 9 AM, though residents are unsure when exactly.
A microbus driver for the Greater Cairo Water Company told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the collapse occurred on 25 February, a few days after a large rainstorm struck Egypt.
“All the sewage drains were flooded,” he said, “before finally the ground gave way and collapsed.”
Manal Shokry, general manager of the Public Administration of Sanitation in Helwan, confirmed that the pipe broke on 1 March. She classified the cause as geological, denying that it had anything to do with last week’s storm.
“This happens all the time,” she said, “and is not related to the weather.”
An employee at the neighboring General Institute for Cleanliness in Helwan, Abdel Salam Mohamed, said that the fact that the collapse created a cavity underneath suggests that the damaged pipe had been leaking inconspicuously for a while. He confirmed, however, an opinion voiced by other employees at the institute, that this incident was the first of its kind.
Owners of a kiosk that overlooks the collapsed area disagreed, saying that a similar incident occurred five or six years ago, before the Cleanliness Institute was established.
Gamal Orabi, head of the General Institute for Cleanliness in Helwan, said both the governor of Helwan, Kadry Abu Hussein, as well as the district’s supervisor, visited the damaged area at around 10 AM yesterday.
The Sanitation Company for Greater Cairo has been contracted to reconstruct the damaged site and will begin work as soon as the agreement on the work is finalized.
Mohamed Gaber, a local resident, on learning about plans for reconstruction, commented, "Why should Helwan be an exception? The whole country is falling apart."