Egyptian transport minister warns railway workers against negligence
Egypt’s transport minister threatened on Wednesday to hire foreign operators to run the country’s ailing rail service if the negligence of public rail authority employees persists.
Kamel El Wazir’s warning came after two consecutive train crashes this week that left two dead and more than 40 injured. The crashes, in Cairo and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, followed a series of deadly train disasters in March and April that left at least 43 dead and hundreds injured.
Mr. El Wazir, a retired army general, complained that he had not received “sufficient cooperation” from senior officials and employees of the Railway Authority since he took over. took the job in 2019, despite what he called generous public funds spent on upgrading and modernizing rail service.
If “laziness and lethargy” continue, he warned, he would hire foreign companies already doing business with the Ministry of Transportation to run the rail service.
“There is no place for those who are corrupt, neglectful or lethargic when it comes to the rights of the Egyptian people,” he said. Any employee who made an error that caused loss of life or damage to property will be fired, he added.
“The managers and workers of the Railway Authority must work day and night and perform their duties exactly according to their job description,” El Wazir told reporters when signing a contract for 110. million dollars with a South Korean consortium to improve signals. on a 118 kilometer rail link between the southern cities of Luxor and Nagaa Hamady.
The series of recent train crashes have shed light on Egypt’s struggling rail sector, making it the center of a national conversation.
Initial findings from prosecutors examining the causes of the March-April crashes revealed a litany of criminal negligence, corruption and even drug use by railway workers while on duty.
Arrests have been made and some railroad officials are now facing manslaughter charges.
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El Sisi on Sunday said officials would now be subjected to random drug tests and anyone found with illegal substances in his system would be fired.
In addition to hundreds of accidents a year – many of which are too minor to be reported by local media – the debt-ridden service suffers from delays, overcrowding and technical problems.
Mr El Wazir said it was planned to spend £ 225 billion until 2024 on the overhaul of the country’s rail service.