Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
9 - 15 December 1999
Issue No. 459
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues

 
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Road rules

By Gamal Essam El-Din

Addressing the People's Assembly on Sunday, Interior Minister Habib El-Adli declared that the traffic law currently in force, Law No 66 for 1973, is now outdated. "This has negative implications for the national economy," he said.

According to El-Adli, a new bill before the Assembly clearly reflects the government's keenness to bring traffic to order and protect citizens against the increased dangers of traffic violations and accidents.

To achieve these objectives, the bill stiffens penalties for traffic offences and tightens control over the issuing of driving licences. As a case in point, El-Adli explained, a minimum penalty of six months imprisonment will be invoked against those who replace basic parts of their cars with substandard parts. Moreover, he added, a driving licence that is used for purposes other than those for which it was issued will be retracted.

The bill cracks down on driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, issuing a minimum penalty of three months imprisonment and a fine of LE500, and a maximum of one year imprisonment and a fine of LE1,000. The penalty will be harsher if the offence is repeated.

The bill also stiffens penalties for taxi-drivers who refuse to transport passengers, do not operate the taxi-meter, or charge more than the set fare. Taxi-drivers will also be required to wear seat belts.

El-Adli affirmed that the new bill will not burden citizens with additional expenditures and will facilitate the procedures of obtaining a driving licence. The grace period for the renewal of a driving licence will be extended from one week to 30 days, he said, and the handicapped will be exempt from licence fees.

In their comments, MPs praised the new bill and urged El-Adli to enforce the new penalties without discrimination. "This bill, however, will not put an end to the chaos which currently afflicts the nation's streets. Bringing traffic to order is not the responsibility of the Interior Ministry alone, but the responsibility of both citizens and government," said MP Zakaria Azmi.

In response, El-Adli said that since January 1999, strict conditions for the issuing of driving licences have been enforced. "Out of a total 346,000 requests, only 72,000 citizens managed to obtain licences. This means that nearly 300,000 requests were rejected," El-Adli said.

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