- Middle East/North Africa
Transportation Minister Hatem Abdel Latif said Monday said that the government has prepared a plan to modernize Egypt’s railways, which includes the purchase of about 550 new train cars and a more centralized maintenance system.
Latif's statements come after a series of high-profile train crashes that have killed dozens over the past few months — including amost 50 schoolchildren in Assiut Governorate when their school bus was hit while crossing tracks in November — have drawn increased public anger, with many accusing the government of neglecting Egypt's aging railway infrastructure.
MENA reported the minister as saying that Egypt had already signed contracts to purchase 212 new cars and will purchase 336 more within days.
The minister also said that there would be only one authority that would be charged with train maintenance, though he did not specify which authority it would be.
Similarly, the minister added that 900 crossings are being simultaneously upgraded around the country and that all crossings will be renovated by the end of the year, without explaining how much upgrading the crossings would cost or how the repairs would be funded, given the country's yawning budget deficit.
In other news, Abdel Latif also said during a visit to Aswan that the government wanted to build an airport in Arqeen, on the Egypt-Sudan border.
He said, without providing further details, that the project would cost LE70 million and would be completed in a year and a half. He added that a railway between Aswan and the Sudanese city of Wadi Halfa had also been proposed.
Edited translation from MENA