Sunday,18 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-
Sunday,18 November, 2018
Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-

Ahram Weekly

Egyptian & Arab press

Doaa El-Bey reviews pundits’ reactions to the horrific Assiut crash, while Gamal Nkrumah looks at the bleak picture painted in Gaza and Syria

Al-Ahram Weekly

The train crash in Al-Mandara crossing in Assiut on Saturday left Egypt in a state of shock. Newspapers ran emotional pages and stories about the 50 dead school pupils and their families and tried to point out the deficiencies and negligence that led to the accident and others.
Al-Akhbar’s front page on Monday was mostly on the train accident. It had ‘Martyrs are absent; they just left their art work in their classes’. Al-Watan described the state in the country after the accident as ‘Egypt cries’ and Al-Youm Al-Sabei had ‘Families of the victims refuse to accept compensation’. Al-Ahram on Sunday bannered ‘New train accident leaves Egypt in pain’, and Al-Masry Al-Youm said ‘Body parts side by side with their books’. The editorial of the official daily Al-Ahram pointed to the human factor as the primary cause of train accidents.
“The Assiut train crash is not the first and will not be the last. Major train accidents like which happened in 2002 and 2009 are attributed to human error. Until people are properly selected and trained, similar accidents will happen,” the editorial added. The solution to the problem, as the edit outlined, is in proper training. Officials in the Ministry of Transportation should provide regular training for their employees starting from train drivers, technicians and engineers. They should also start a serious monitoring and supervision process to make sure that employees are carrying out their job properly in addition to gradually substituting the human elements for machines to decrease the total dependence on humans.
Wael Al-Semari noted the fact that no person in this country is worth anything. The bigger factor that he pointed out was that the crash that happened in Assiut was not a surprise. People were surprised because of its gravity, but it happens every day in separate accidents. Dozens of people, Al-Semari added, die in accidents every day but neither government officials nor the president try to do anything regarding the issue. The third conclusion that the writer reached was that catastrophes are the rule in Egypt and safety is the exception.
Al-Semari questioned whether Islamist President Morsi should be held accountable for the mistakes of employees who cause these accidents. While the writer acknowledged that Morsi cannot be fully responsible for corruption and negligence of previous decades, he held him partially responsible because he did not take any measures to reform corrupt bodies and considered membership in his Muslim Brotherhood group as the criteria for choosing government officials. “I hold President Morsi responsible for the train crash and predict that more accidents will happen as long as Egypt is a ranch for its president and his group, as long as we are short of future planning and as long as people are happy not to question their president for his failure in the first 100 days,” he wrote in the independent daily Al-Youm Al-Sabei.
Amr Hamzawy declined to call it an accident and preferred to describe the Assiut crash as collective murder. “The crime of killing children in Assiut, which embodied degrading human value, catastrophic negligence and governmental disability, created a state of community grief that no one can ignore,” Hamzawy wrote in the independent daily weekly Al-Watan. It created sadness because the president did not go to console the families of the victims or ask the prime minister to draw up a plan to reform the railway authority and improve the railway tracks in a certain period of time. He should have addressed the nation to offer his condolences to the families, Hamzawy elaborated, before visiting them in person — which did not happen. Then, he should have held himself politically and executively responsible for the accident.
Mohamed Amin said that although there was no Israeli raid on Assiut, the scene of the accident looked like the bloody scenes in Gaza. The accident left parts of children’s bodies lying next to their books, copybooks and shoes. He described the accident as a catastrophe that blackened the state’s reputation and ended with the resignation of a minister, “each catastrophe ends with the resignation of a minister without addressing the core problem of negligence. Al-Demeiri resigned after the train accident in Upper Egypt, and Mansour resigned after the Al-Ayyat accident. This time, Al-Meteini resigned,” Amin wrote in the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm. Amin expected to find in the president’s statement words that showed respect to the victims’ families or an emergency meeting that would end in the resignation of the government or even a declaration of a state of mourning. The writer suggested that the railway body should go under the supervision of the presidency so that the next accident would lead to the resignation of the president himself. Amin summed up his column by emphasising that a statement from the president or a resignation of a minister is not enough. Unless there is an administrative and political revolution, more accidents will happen.
Mohamed Barakat pointed to three horrendous crimes: negligence which killed children in the train accident, occupation of Gaza and that of terrorism and extremism in Sinai. The three crimes, Barakat wrote in the official daily Al-Akhbar, carry genuine threats to the safety and security of citizens and the country. The first crime, Barakat explained, represents utter and devastating negligence. It took the lives of 51 innocent children who were victims of disorder, negligence and absence of accountability. The second crime, he added, embodies the ferocious aggression of the Israelis on our Palestinian brothers in apparent defiance of the international community. The third crime in Sinai is related to the first two crimes because it is also linked to negligence towards that part of the country. In the meantime, it is also associated with Israeli plans and conspiracies against Sinai, “an extremely dangerous matter”, as Barakat said at the end of his regular column.

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