Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

New traffic law puts brakes on driving in Cairo


The streets of the Egyptian capital Cairo have been unusually quiet since the start of the month and cabbies say they now drive around in fear of the massive police presence, evident at all major intersections. The big junctions have a police “liwa” on duty — equivalent in rank to an army major-general — along with up to a dozen subordinates enforcing, or perhaps working out how to enforce, a draconian new traffic law.

The newspapers publish daily reports of the number of tickets they have given out the previous day — at least several thousand, for offences such as failing to wear seat belts or stopping beyond the white line at a junction.

On the first day some drivers were ticketed because they did not have the first aid kit which the new law requires them to carry, although the Interior Ministry had postponed that requirement for three months until pharmacies could stock up on them.

Egyptians assume that this unusual requirement is designed to benefit some businessman close to the government but no one has identified a suspect or produced any proof. With millions of vehicles on the road, many of them without working lights or brakes,let alone first aid kits, much money is at stake.