A ban on parking in downtown Cairo has had striking results, reports Mai Samih
In February this year Cairo Governor Galal Al-Saeed issued a decree banning car parking in downtown streets in Cairo near Tahrir Square.
Most of the streets in the area now have a new look, and the flow of traffic has improved for the first time in decades. Before the ban, all of the streets off Tahrir lost lanes to rows of parked cars.
The police are present in large numbers, ready to fine anyone parking near the metal barriers on both sides of the streets.
Mohamed Ayman, deputy governor of the Southern Cairo District, said that Mohamed Mahmoud Street from Sherif Street and its extension to Tahrir Square, Tahrir Street and its extension to Al-Falaki Square, Talat Harb Street, Sherif Street and its extension to Al-Bustan Street, Al-Bustan Square and Sabry Abou Allam Street were all included in the parking ban.
“These streets were chosen as they are the arteries of the downtown area and should not be blocked as this causes traffic jams,” Ayman said.
“It used to be the case that anyone driving in the downtown streets would find himself stuck in a traffic jam, with cars parked on both sides of the street leaving him no place to move. This had dire results in terms of fuel consumption and time wasted,” he added.
“We have put up signs in streets where parking is banned to help people avoid violating the traffic laws.”
According to traffic law amendment 142 of 2014, drivers who park in areas subject to the parking ban can have their licences suspended for a month.
In order to encourage people to stop parking in such areas, the Cairo governor has announced a reduction in fees at the underground garage in Tahrir Square, which opened in January.
The first hour will be LE4, with reduced fees charged for subsequent hours and evening parking. Monthly subscriptions are LE500 per car. A mini-bus serves passengers wishing to go from the garage to other downtown areas.
“There is a difference between a country that does not give due importance to time and a country like Japan that respects time and is developed for this reason,” Ayman commented.
Although the decree was widely praised, not everyone is happy, and some people working in the downtown area have said they cannot afford to pay the monthly subscription.
“To take a mini-bus from Tahrir to the company where I work would take much more time, causing me to be late for work,” said Sherif Mahmoud, a 40-year-old accountant.
One shop owner near Tahrir Square said the decree could affect sales. “Customers will have to walk a long way to come and buy things from my shop as the mini-buses that are supposed to take them from the garage do not actually work,” he said.