Sisi threatens to deploy army against Egyptians who took over deserted state land
Egypt President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi threatened Monday to use force against Egyptians who have unlawfully seized state-owned lands or irrigation facilities over the past decades.
Sisi said police and soldiers might be deployed to reclaim the state properties, which includes lands and irrigation works.
Over the past three decades, farmers have taken over deserted land along the Nile which officially belongs to the state.
Sisi warned that this process will no longer be tolerated.
"The interior ministry…and if needed…the armed forces [will ensure] that all these [irregularities] made throughout the past 20 or 30 years… are removed within six months," he said in a commanding manner.
Sisi also warned that violators could be denied access to state-funded services - such as bread subsidies - unless the process is reversed over the next six months.
He claimed that the water flowing through the Nile's Rosetta branch, in Lower Egypt, was reduced from 80 to 30 million cubic metres due to such violations.
It also impacted the quantity of water reaching agricultural lands, he added.
Sisi said the amount of water flowing into Egypt is "not much and will not grow", so the state has to improve its water usage.
The dam's construction will likely cause the share of Nile River water reaching Egypt to decrease sharply and has been strongly opposed by Cairo.
The Egyptian government has been strongly criticised for failing to find a solution to the crisis, while Ethiopia has also been slammed for the project.
Sisi made the comments during the inauguration of a water treatment plant in Bahr El-Baqar, Port Said city, the latest effort in tackling future water shortages.
Sisi said that 700 billion Egyptian pounds ($44.5 billion) had been allocated to secure a "decent life" for the Egyptian people.
"We are racing against time to develop, modernise and regain the efficiency of our water facilities... Both the state and the people have a role to play," Sisi said.