Media round-up on the city : April 2013
On April 22, Al Ahram (Arabic paper version) declared the annulment of a decree – established by the former Prime Minister Essam Charaf – ensuring public services to informal settlements. The new Prime Minister Hicham Qandil, decided to abrogate this decree for matters of insecurity and “danger of death” for the inhabitants. According to the article, it is said that these 214 000 constructions in these “wild neighbourhoods”, where 12 millions Egyptians live, represent a waste of 250 LE billions and 80 000 feddans of the national wealth.
On April 23, Al Ahram (Arabic paper version) reported that the “law on land’s ownership has no retroactive effect”.
Concerning energy, with the numerous power outages these last months, and rumours about power cut lasting more hours during the summer, the Egyptians are buying more en more electrical generators, which sales are in important rise, according to Egypt independent.
To compensate for the gap between demand and supply of electricity, new electricity megacomplex are on project. One of which, in Dairut village, in Behaira, should reduce the gap by 40%. The government will start receiving technical and financial bids in May.
In which concerns the oil crisis, and the decrease of subsidies, the government will declare next month, a new plan on gradual rises in fuel prices for the industries, to bring them near to world levels in four years.
As we talked about cultural and architectural heritage in the last round up medias, an article from Daily News Egypt was issued on April 23. And point out the threat over Alexandria’s architectural landmarks and heritage. On April 21, Al Ahram called for the rescue of Ibn Tulun Mosque, in Cairo, which suffers neglect.
« Focus on » Transport in Egypt
Strikes and improvement projects of Egyptian Transport
Since March, numerous strikes have been organised around the country, sometimes resulting in clashes. The strikers went on action again, on April 7, refusing the 10% rise proposed by the Prime Minister, paralysing the whole train network. The strikers also refuted the wrong information delivered by the government, which were declaring the strikers end in exchange of a low rise of their wages.
On April 9, Al Horreya wel Adala (paper version) wrote on its front page: « Train strikes: The Ministry asked for armed forces’ help ». The Ministry of Transport, in fact asked for the armed forces help and retired drivers to run the trains.
According to Al Watan (paper version) the situation went worse, when the general prosecutor issued arrest warrants against the strikers, and the metro drivers joined the movement.
On April 10, Al Ahram declared the withdrawal of a governmental decree: aimed « to call up a group of striking railway workers for military service within the railway division of the Egyptian armed forces, a situation which would have forced them to resume driving trains under the auspices of military service or appear in front of a military tribunal».
Two sit in established by Cairo’s taxi drivers also occurred at the beginning of the month. On April 23, after a 10 hours sit-in, taxi drivers reopened the traffic on 6th of October Bridge. The drivers were protesting against the decision of exchanging the old back and white taxis for new white vehicles, and the cancellation of car-payment instalments.
Concerning the frequent accidents, in November 2012, about 50 very young children died in a train-scholar bus collision, near Asyut. Then in January 2013, 19 persons died and 107 were injured after a train accident in South Cairo. The far most important train accident occurred in 2002, were around 370 persons passed away in a train fire. The operators’ negligence and the lack of security are behind a lot of accidents.
After these numerous strikes and transport-accident, the improvement of Egyptian transport system, and especially the urban one is of outmost importance.
Plus, the transport is vital to the economy of the country. Majors improvement, modernisation and planning projects are under development of almost all types of means of transportation. According to the Oxford Business Group 2012 annual report, “the issue with Egypt’s transport infrastructure is one of quality, not quantity”.
After UK, Egypt has the second-oldest national railway, and nowadays, it consists of around 6700km of railways and 820 railroad stations, in crucial need of modernisation. Trains are mostly used for passengers transport, although “it is 40% cheaper to move goofs by rail than by road”. After all these accidents, many adjustment projects are awaited and expected. (see also Daily News Egypt, and AME Info)
Today the road network consists of almost 100 000 km, where 70% of which are classified of main roads. But, the majority of these roads are dilapidated, overburdened and unsafe. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 12 000 lives pass away in traffic accidents every year, with one in five deaths befalling pedestrians. Investments in the road network is essential, and moreover security campaigns.
Cairo, as many other Egyptians cities, is notoriously congested. The growth of the vehicle ownership has been continuously rising for the past three decades. And this growth isn’t followed by public transportation system improvement.
The public buses system is dilapidated and overstepped by the minibuses “private” one (see also women’s transport).
The third metro line is still under construction, but shows many obstacles, which the most important one is the financing – Although various international and development actors are investing in the project. From the French Development Agency (Daily New Egypt article) to the JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), which is thinking of a « master plan » for transport infrastructures, passing by Mitsubishi supplying train cars and tracks made by Toshiba.
This project is planned in four phases :
– phase 1 (Attaba-Abassia) was inaugurated on February 21, 2012
– phase 2 (Abassia-Al Ahram) is planned for the end of 2013
– phase 3 (Attaba- Imbaba – Cairo University)
– and finally phase 4 (Al Ahram – Cairo Airport)
Source : Oxford Business Group,2012 annual report.
Tourism being a major sector of the country’s economy, the Egyptian “government approved a $387 millions project to expand Cairo International Airport second terminal. (…) It will double the number of gates” and is scheduled for completion in 2015. Asyut Airport is also to be expanded.