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CAIRO, Sept 14, 2018 (MENA) – Repair works started Friday on the Autostrad Road and measures have been taken to facilitate vehicular traffic in the area, the general directorate of Cairo traffic announced.

The directorate said in a statement that the repair works extend for 1.5 kilometers; the way from el Zahraa tunnel towards el Nasr tunnel.

Work will start at 12:30 a.m. till 6 a.m., it added, noting that it is set to last for 21 days; until October 4.

By Simon Willis

Car-owners of Cairo, you have all had your chances. You've been given flyovers and tunnels. However, most of you don't bother with seat belts or tyres with proper tread. You use side streets to avoid main roads where there are traffic jams, and you create traffic jams in those same side streets. Road surfaces are potholed like unhealed wounds. You insist on parking in every available space parallel to and on the pavement.

I can hear you ask me where you can leave your vehicle. Allow me to suggest 6th October City or the Western Desert – there is plenty of space there and there is no fear of parking charges or fines.

Besides, walking in potholes and road surfaces that saw better days round about half past King Farouk is torture, especially since the only shade afforded by leafy suburbia is taken up by people like you, yes, you, who insist on claiming the sidewalk for your four-wheeled abomination.

It's 39 degrees. The sun insists on turning hydrogen into helium, resulting in more heat and light. A dog scurries out of the way of an oncoming shooting brake full of schoolkids and with a driver with an attitude not very different from that of his passengers.

A delivery person decides that he has the unalienable right to ride his motorcycle the narrow central reservation because that pizza simply must get through.

What a day for a day dream. Imagine the greatest city in Africa free of the selfish saloon. Those of us who are able-bodied, let's take to the streetsàon bikes. Yes, the two-wheeled future is one to brace ourselves for all that bracing exercise and enable city dwellers to breathe more easily.

Meanwhile, the whiners and the moaning Minnies will protest. Sherine writes that she lives in Heliopolis but her office is in Mohandiseen. Sherine, I advise you to move house. Or apply for a transfer to a more conveniently located branch of the company.

Or change jobs. A career move is never too late, so they drum into us on those lifestyle self-help websites. Khaled says he has not ridden a bicycle since he was a child. No problem, one never forgets how to ride a bike any more than one loses the ability to play pointless computer games.

The first step to banishing private cars from the city involves a scheme to boost the fortunes of the insurance industry in three phases, of which the first will entail the clandestine recruitment of unemployed youths dressed in black overalls, wearing ski masks and armed with sledge hammers.

The second phase will involve the smashing the windscreens and denting the bonnets and boots of vehicles parked on the pavement during the night in selected neighbourhoods. You will never know if you will go downstairs to find your Vectra intact or an expensive repair bill.

Phase three: insurance companies will be inundated with claims which will automatically be invalidated because the same firms will have re-written the policies such that vehicles left on pavements in the hours of darkness will not be covered for damage to the windscreen or stoved in door panels.

Insurance agents' commission will increase in proportion to the risk of leaving that Hyundai that highlights your socio-economic status.

While the state-sponsored vandalism goes on, relentless media advertising campaigns for bicycle sales and the health benefits of two-wheeled conveyances will be staged. At first, most listeners and viewers will dismiss the persuasive talk to 'Mount Your Bike' as mere poppycock to boost the sports industry.

Let there be cycling events in Egypt. Who will go down in the 'Guinness Book of Records' for the fastest crossing of the Western Desert on two wheels? What about a 'Tour d'Egypte'? attracting local and international sponsors?

How about cycling holidays for the family? The tandem will become a fashion accessory as well as a means to promote physical fitness.

Consider the feeling of achievement when the family of six arrives in Alexandria after a six-hour slog on the Agricultural Road from Cairo. Picture adults and children laying down their bikes on the Corniche and, without bothering to undress, run down the beach and into the refreshing Mediterranean waves.

The sound of sizzling as their heated bodies come into contact with the cool water will surely drown out that of the lone vehicle chugging past the Cecil Hotel. I ask for no apology for the lyricism: it cannot be helped as one visualises the prospect of a quieter, more comfortable and sweeter-smelling urban environment.

Meanwhile, residents of suburbia will have little sleep as the machinery moves in to break up the tarmac and leave cycle lanes with white lines and everything.

Did they read the announcements in the national dailies about the radical road restructuring plans? Did they attend the debates in their local community centres and town halls? No. Again, they pooh-poohed the idea of the bicycle takeover of this great city.

The remaining space will be grassed over and watered by armies of hitherto unemployed youth – about whom the press still refer to in glowing terms matching the glowing prospects that await them in so-called job creation schemes.

As for the cars left out during the demolition, they will be taken to crushers in the new communities and owners will be told that their erstwhile pride and joy is now a one-metre cube of scrap metal destined for Helwan steel works to produce that commodity to fulfill domestic demand and eliminate the need for the imported variety.

Opponents to such an outrageous scheme demand to know the fate of public transport. Of course, for those who simply cannot use a bicycle, buses will operate every three minutes on the main thoroughfares.

Taxis will operate on an 'Uber' basis, but there will be severe limits to their numbers. And there will be no more spotty yobs with smart phones glues to their ears driving them, either. The Metro will glide on.

Ambulances will be able to rush patients to hospitals without let or hindrance by other road users. Indeed, what a daydream!

 

CAIRO, June 24, 2018 (MENA) - President Abdel Fattah El Sisi approved on Sunday a law regulating land transportation services using information technology.

Under the law no. 87 of 2018, transport companies using privately-owned vehicles for commercial purposes should legalize their status within a period of not more than six months.

The law was published in the official gazette.