The Investment Minister came out on television and announced the establishment of a Canadian-Egyptian company that would build a monorail between the 6th of October City and Cairo. And when we saw on the screen a hanging train similar to those that we see in science fiction movies, we felt that we would at last be saved from the suffering on the July 26 Axis and the Ring Road.
But when his host, Lamis al-Hadidi, began to ask him about more details of the project, we found out that the whole matter was still being studied. If it is any consolation, this is still a step further than just being a mere idea.
Looking disappointed, Hadidi ended the interview when she realized that there was nothing more to say.
The next day, the fictitious picture of the hanging train occupied the front pages of the newspapers, with a statement by the Transport Ministry saying that it is the only authorized body to build a monorail, which Egypt does not need anyway because it is costly and would only serve the rich, while the ministry is focusing in its projects on the poor.
And so, we were left not knowing whether the monorail project would be carried out or if the Transport Ministry had killed it.
Amazingly, the July 26 Axis is relatively clean, while the Ring Road is full of garbage piles that the wind blows inside your car when you pass by them.
But the side of road that takes you in the direction of Cairo University is reasonably clean, which made me ask the officials if the residents of the dirty side are being punished for some reason.
The answer was that the clean side is under the jurisdiction of the Giza Municipality, which is equipped to clean it, whereas the other side is under the jurisdiction of the Transport Ministry, which is not.
When I was once managing a public sector company, I realized that the various departments do not talk with each other. For example, a letter from the financial department to the legal department, which is located one floor up, would take the same time as if it was sent outside. Also, they had never heard of e-mail. I realized that the reform I was trying to introduce would take at least a century, and that the 112 projects that the company was aiming for would never materialize.
So I thought of a very simple idea. What if every department head invited his counterparts to a cup of coffee in his office and discussed problems? Would that not help?
By the same token, would it not help if the Investment Minister invited the Transport Minister to a cup of coffee and discussed, not just the monorail, but other important issues as well? And would it not help if the governors of Cairo and Giza met over a cup of coffee and discussed the garbage problem of the Ring Road?
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm