“Look at this place, one would think we have worked here for 30 years”. Watch operator Ibrahim Mohamed when working on the construction of Egypt’s new capital.
Egypt’s new wonder
To be an excavator operator has become Ibrahim Mohamed’s life. His work brings him to new places and he lives at the construction sites one month at the time, spending precious time away from his family. But for him, the job is always worth it.
It is a windy day at the construction site in the desert outside Cairo. Ibrahim Mohamed and his co-workers seek protection from the swirling dust as they take a sip of hot tea. Today, they will take down the cabins that have served as offices and resting area while they have been doing ground work here, at one of the many parallel construction sites that together become the mega project of constructing a new capital city.
The new city will spread out over 700 square kilometers, which is about the size of Singapore. It will be one of the first smart cities in Africa with large green spaces and an electrified and smart public transportation system. When finalized, the city will be home to five million people.
“This is our Egyptian DNA. We have always constructed big, since the Pharaonic time,” says Ibrahim Mohamed, half joking, half serious.
He is a tall man who moves with confidence at the work site. His colleagues look up to him, both literally and because of his experience and skills. Ibrahim has been an operator for 25 years and is one of the best trained and experienced operators at the site.
“I am proud of my job. I am skilled, I can do the most complicated jobs an excavator operator can do. My experience and knowledge gives me a good position within the company,” he says.
His home is in Benha. His wife and three sons live there. When working on a project he divides his time between family and work. He spends ten days at home with the family and twenty days at the construction site each month.
“This is my life. I have always worked like this and I am used to it. It is difficult from time to time, but with cell phones and modern technology it has become easier,” Ibrahim explains.
He arrived at the construction site this morning, transported by bus together with his co-workers. They started off their day with checking the machines and then doing some final ground work. This afternoon, the machines will be moved on trucks to another site within the new capital. Himself and his colleagues will be picked up at five in the afternoon to be transported back to the camp where he is staying while working. He will have dinner and then go straight to sleep.
“I work hard and while working I don’t think about anything else but work,” he says.
When having some time off, all colleagues sometimes play football together.
“I like it, I used to be quite good when I was younger. Today, anyone among us colleagues can be a striker, we take turns,” Ibrahim says with a smile.
Wherever they work, the team works hard to meet the tight deadlines and Ibrahim is proud of how fast the new capital is taking shape.
“Houses, churches, mosques, a lot of buildings are already in place. Today you would think we have been working here for 30 years. However, three years ago, there was nothing at all here,” he concludes.
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