Farah El-Akkad learns how
and where to report traffic violations
Traffic violations are growing by the minute. And the government can no longer contain the problem. So people have decided to step in.
Like many initiatives intended to bring out the best in Egyptians instead of the worst which is almost always showing, the team of E-Mokhalfa has led a very successful stand for the last two years, which aims at improving our driving habits and putting some community pressure on those who do not abide by the rules.
E-Mokhalfa, launched in 2011, is considered the first initiative of its kind in Egypt with its distinctive feature: drivers and people in general are able to report and monitor any kind of driving violation they come across. Co-founder Mohamed Al-Hagri informs us that people are also able to report any road harassments. “For instance, if someone goes around with his car harassing girls, they can report him by the car’s plate number,” Al-Hagri explained. The reports are then saved in the application’s database, which makes it available for anyone to search for breaches via car plate numbers through E-Mokhalfa’s application or website.
Yehia Tarek, one of E-Mokhalfa’s fans, comments, “This awesome application helps us learn the actual meaning of signs we see on the streets. Most of us passed our driving test without even taking a look at them”. Warning signs can be found with their meaning on E-Mokhalfa’s Facebook page plus many safety tips for better driving.
Al-Hagri also related the violations E-Mokhalfa succeeded in dealing with. He recounts that a car was seen with the words “Security Agency” on its licence plates. “Actually, there is no such thing as security agency on car plates in Egypt,” Al-Hagri says. After many reports were sent and a lot of people shared the photo of the car on Facebook, E-Mokhalfa cooperated with the traffic police and “they were able to catch the guy who turned out to be a doctor,” he adds. Traffic police use E-Mokhalfa as a source of statistics to help them track down people committing road violations. Many wrongs are reported on pharmacies owning delivery motorbikes. “A very popular pharmacy got so many reports on its motorbikes, that the owner was obliged to publish an apology note, and promised to supervise his drivers,” Al-Hagri said.
E-Mokhalfa provides instant help for mothers who want to make sure school bus drivers are safely driving their children. “Mothers are easily able to monitor school and nursery buses through the application”. E-Mokhalfa is also starting a new venture with some schools and other institutes who want to ensure their drivers are on the right track “Our job will be to observe the driving patterns of drivers and report any breaking of the law to the party concerned,” Al-Hagri states.
E-Mokhalfa’s team won second place in the World Bank and Ministry of Communications and Information Technology competition in February, in addition to presenting their idea in the Al-Sawy Culture Wheel this month.
The initiative has been progressing with the number of its users and followers climbing the charts every day. Al-Hagri says, “We will be conducting many awareness campaigns in universities and institutes to make people more in touch with the idea”.
Another important goal of E-Mokhalfa is to put the spotlight on the good and bad habits of drivers because, as Tarek explains, “it’s unfortunate that many people do not understand the concept of how driving is part of our culture and how it says a lot about us.”
Many people in Egypt feel that whenever they follow the rules, they will be seen as stupid or odd, and “as a result many drivers are obliged to go with the flow, even though they know it is wrong.”
“Do not let a violation pass”, is their motto