Egypt: Alexandria ready for holidaymakers
Now the Alexandria City Council has launched a comprehensive campaign to clean up the free-off charge beaches, which receive millions of holidaymakers each summer to enjoy the waters with their families.
"Those beaches, like Abu Heif, Miami, el-Assafra, and el-Betash for example, will be receiving more vacationers and they will look better during the summer season," Mohamed Farag Ashmawi, the manager of a public beach, has said.
Under the Clean Beach Programme launched by the City Council in conjunction with the Alexandria Governorate, Ashmawi has pledged that the public beaches will meet locally-set standards that guarantee their cleanliness and quality specially after the January 25 revolution.
"This is the first post-Mubarak summer season and it has to look different and better," he said, adding that the Abu Heif beach, known for its affordable prices, will be ready to receive holidaymakers from all governorates as of July 1.
He said that a beachgoer would pay LE2 for a chair, and LE5 for an umbrella as a daily renting fee.
"All entry fees have been cancelled from the public beaches," he said, adding that the move aimed to lure middle-class families into coming to Alexandria even for one day.
Six months ago, Alexandria was hit by the foul whiff of a scandal when it was found that a stretch of el-Betash beach was sullied by raw sewage spewing out of a pipeline extending from an inland industrial facility.
The discovery forced the closure of the part of the beach for a month and a half as officials sought to get to the bottom of the problem.
Eventually, the municipality officials found that drivers of trucks carrying waste were emptying the slops into the pipeline that opens into the sea instead of waiting for long hours at the city's only sewage treatment plant near el-Ammeriya.
"Although the water is better than it was six months ago, the beach has been recovered and ready to welcome the holidaymakers as of July 1," Mohamed Hussein Sulieman, who is in charge of el-Betash beach, told the evening newspaper Al-Messa.
However, Hussein said that the once-booming Alexandria city, particularly its tourism sector, has been hit hard by a security vacuum that occurred after the revolution.
Though the security crisis has put the brakes on the boom, the problem remains " not only in Alexandria but in other summer resorts such as Gamasa, Ras el-Barr and Balteem during the coming season, Sulieman lamented.
"The problem is linked to the lack of security and a money shortage that occurred after the revolution," he said.
However, Alexandria Governor Essam Salem said authorities had stepped up efforts to police and regulate the beaches in a bid to save the ailing summer season, a lifeline not only for his Governorate but for the entire country.
The Governorate has tasked full-time security personnel and inspectors with patrolling the beaches to ensure that they are safe and clean, Salem said.