In the span of one month’s time, there have been three train accidents in Egypt. Many died, many more were injured.
In the latest accident on April 18, at least 23 have died and 130 have been injured (figure varies but is updated from the initial 11 deaths and 98 injured reported) in one crash near the town of Toukh, when two axels fell off the train. There is also reason to believe that the train was traveling far faster than appropriate. This accident was so severe, 20 emergency vehicles were needed to move victims to hospital. On March 27, at least 19 were killed and 185 injured in a separate accident in Tahta.
Usama ‘Aqeel, an expert in transportation in Egypt has noted that Egyptian trains have essential become dilapidated over time, lacking development and care. Furthermore, he notes that those responsible for railway oversight management within the government have not updated their methods for 150 years. On top of that, ‘Aqeel argues, there are so many employees (90,000), that the actual handling of development and modernization cannot happen smoothly or at all. Furthermore, the costs of paying 90,000 employees also impedes funds going towards railway maintenance and development.
Innocent civilians—Muslims—are dying, only because they chose to take a train as their means of transport. It is safe to assert, so much of this death is avoidable; so many of these death mobiles are avoidable, if it weren’t due to oversight, an overly bureaucratized system, and a lack of development and modernization of the railways.
Sadly, this is nothing new. The BBC also reports that Egypt has recorded 12,000 railway accidents from 2006 to 2016.
The current government, led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has ordered an investigation of the latest incident, and 23 people have been detained related to the accident (e.g., the train driver; rail workers). One top official has also been fired. But all of these measures do not equate to updated, well-maintained rail systems. That requires investment.
Other projects of Sisi’s are getting money and attention. One example: a royal move for some of the ancient pharaohs to a new museum. The 40-minute trip (of only 3 miles) included a 21-gun salute in the pharaohs’ honor and cars fancifully decorated for each one being moved. Of course, there’s the problem of celebrating a pagan past that goes along with having a ceremony like this. Along with that, it’s simply a shame that such treatment and care isn’t shown to living people. ‘Audhu billah.
Of course, the museum might bring money in the form of tourism, a suffering industry in Egypt. Also, the money allocated for it and the pharaohs’ royal treatment wouldn’t necessarily be reallocated to railway maintenance and modernization. The point is though, that the care given to them, is not bestowed on citizens—Muslims and a Christian minority—living there today.
Economic problems are complex. What happens to many of those railway employees if they were to be laid off to allocate funds for railway maintenance? There are not simple answers, but people in power have assumed their positions in part to handle these problems (or so we hope). Maybe the at-least 1 billion dollars allocated to building prisons—Sisi has built at least sixteen of the nineteen constructed since the revolution—could have helped.
Please don’t forget them the way that their government does; please make dua for them.