Nuweiba investors, representatives of tourism businesses and representatives of the Bedouin tribes took part in a heated discussion with the Electricity Holding Company, which lasted for over 5 hours from 11 Am to 16 Pm at Nuweiba at the Hilton on June 2nd.
On June 4th, we held a follow up meeting at Basata and after a comprehensive evaluation of the pros and cons of such a power plant - located in the heart of Nuweiba – representatives of hotels, camps, dive centers and other businesses, as well as the Bedouins of both tribes came to the following conclusion:
“We welcome the offer proposed during the meeting by representatives of the Electricity Holding Company to allocate the Nuweiba Power Plant to an alternative location other than Medinat Nuweiba, which indeed met the view of all those present.”
In the beginning of August we will have another meeting with the Electricity holding company in Nuweiba.
During August we are expecting the visit of representatives of the funding banks, the African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank. The final decision whether the banks will fund the Nuweiba Power Plant will be taken in the beginning of September.
During the meeting with the Electricity Holding Company it became obvious that Nuweiba was the cheapest option with a gas pipeline passing nearby the main road and easy access to the huge amount of seawater required for the cooling system of the mega plant. Little attention was paid to the habitat of the location and the impacts it would have on people and businesses in Nuweiba. It came as a surprise to the guests that the nearest dive center would be adjacent to the intake pipe and not situated as assumed 3 km to the south.
A video provided by the Scuba College proved that our reefs, and here especially the one in front of the Waha Hotel, situated in the midst of the intake and discharge structures, are neither poor nor dead.
However, the Electricity Holding Company promised us the most advanced technology that will minimize negative impacts on the environment and the marine eco-system in accordance to the law of Egypt and the requirements of the funding banks.
The representatives promised to mitigate the visual impact the construction with its stacks of up to 82 meters will have on the surrounding landscape.
The representatives offered job opportunities for thousands of workers during the time of construction.
Nuweiba power plant will have a positive impact on the economy of Egypt and adding to the country’s national gross income.
The representatives promised that the Electricity Holding Company would invest in Nuweiba, eg. schools, which in case of relocation would be withdrawn.
The people of Nuweiba don’t agree that the construction and operation of such a mega plant will be without impact on the environment and on our livelihood. Nuweiba is in no need for such an enormous capacity of 750 MW.
We will loose through the construction of the intake/discharge structure:
- Temporary loss of shoreline habitat
- Permanent loss of the reef located just in the fan (near the Waha Hotel, as seen during the video presentation this reef is very much alive!)
The intake and discharge pipes might kill the reef; it will make diving and snorkeling unsafe in the immediate area.
Make no mistake, once a place is classified as unsafe for diving, snorkeling, swimming this will have a huge impact on dive tourism in all of Nuweiba and maybe beyond.
Tourism is very sensitive. It takes years to build up a good reputation. It takes a second to destroy it and eternity to rebuild it.
Tourists will shun away from any places where such a mega power plant is in operation. Sinai Tourists especially come for sun and sea. In terms of Nuweiba they come for its pristine and natural beauty.
The hi-tech plant though with all implemented safety measures and artificial beautification efforts won’t by no means attract tourists to the region. Furthermore Nuweiba will be branded as an ugly and environmentally unsafe destination.
Turbines with a height of 32 meters and the stacks with 82 meters are a disturbance and are indeed not an appealing sight for tourists on holiday.
Future will show what kind of impact the new branding of Nuweiba as an industrial town will have on the neighboring resorts Dahab and Taba.
We in Nuweiba live from tourism and tourism related businesses. As per EIA report and as promised during the meeting, job opportunities will open for the local population.
Only 5% of the 3000 jobs on offer are appropriate for the local population. We simply fail to have the required qualities for the jobs on offer.
In fact the work force will originate from other places than Nuweiba.
As mentioned in the study, the labor camp will sustain itself through the establishment of shops, office buildings, clinics, conference rooms, mosque, etc. on compound. Hence, even benefits for the shopkeepers and suppliers are limited to the very early stage of construction.
Nuweiba Power Plant can’t be compared to any operational plants elsewhere in Egypt, not Ain Sokhna on the Gulf of Suez, nor in overpopulated Giza, etc. How come that the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba are protected with the EXCEPTION of the waters of Nuweiba?
The local population was not considered at all during the time of environmental and social assessment studies. Nobody ever consulted anybody of the local dive centers, tourism establishments and of the local population as the first source of information during the two years long studies.
Thus it explains some incorrect figures in the EIA. E.g. a video presentation proved that the reef in front of the fan is far from poor or already dead. The nearest dive center lies only a few meters from the intake pipe – not 3 kilometers, aso.
The construction of the Nuweiba Power Plant will ultimately alter the picture of present Nuweiba. It will be the end of tourism. Nuweiba will become an industrial zone midway between Taba and Dahab, and this merely due to the location of the power plant in the heart of the tourist settlement and primarily due to its distasteful visual impact for kilometers.
Nuweiba’s present population will be forced to move away, some already as soon as construction starts, and consequently will give way to the equal amount of workers and later to the 300 permanent employees of the power plant.
Nuweiba will not attract future tourism investments. Land prices will drop dramatically.
It might as well be that the example of Nuweiba might alarm potential foreign and domestic tourism investors.