Sunday, May 13, 2018

The New Metro fare and the beginning of long hot summer

At least 22 people have been arrested in Cairo from several Metro stations for protesting the latest increase in Metro fares on Saturday according to Reuters while human rights organizations say that at least 50 commuters were arrested because of the new fares.
On Sunday and because of the fear of more unrests as well of future protests, security forces were deployed in huge numbers in an unprecedented scene in the metro stations thanks to late night decision taken on Thursday.
Egypt's Metro tickets
The new tickets of the Metro "Twitter"
Last Thursday as Egyptians were ready to start their last weekend before the start of the Holy month of Ramadan, the Egyptian government decided to raise the metro fare in Cairo.
In nutshell , the cheapest ticket or fare increased by 50% while the most expensive fare increased by 300%. There is a new system based upon the number of the stations as far I understood.

On Friday , the government or rather minister of transportation Hisham Arafat said the decision was taken in the right time.
On the same day, it seems that several Pro-regime media outlets had telepathic thoughts as we found both State-owned Al-Ahram News website and private-owned Youm 7 publishing infographs showing how the new fare in Egypt was actually cheapest in the world. Egyptians found themselves to be compared with their counterparts in countries like in Germany and Denmark.
Well, Germany is considering to provide free public transportation in order to limit pollution in some irony.

Fact-checking Matsdash “Do not believe” Facebook page compared the per capita income and the metro fare in those countries and it turned out that Egypt’s Per capita income is the lowest comparing to those countries in Youm 7 and Ahram’s lists.

Logically those media outlets should have bothered themselves and compared the per capita income of those citizens in those countries like in Denmark with the citizens in Egypt before they draw that conclusion and to make it more realistic.

Originally that increase was planned for the new fiscal year 2018/2019 that will start 1 July 2018 according to an old statement of minister Arafat to Youm 7 in December 2017.
So what happened and made the government change its mind and to advance the date? It is unclear.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi himself spoke in August 2016 about increasing the fare of the metro to offset its loses.
I can not forget that choosing that week before Ramadan is perfect.
People are now busy in buying food and getting ready for the Holy Month or this is what the regime thinks because people talk only about the increase in metro fares especially the Middle and Working classes who are its primary users.

We are used to having shocking economic decisions in Egypt since 2013 to be issued late Thursday so people would not dare or think to protest anymore on their weekends like before.
I bet the regime chose that date because it is sure that people will be angry for a couple of days then they will forget as the Holy Month of Ramadan commences on Thursday.

Well, they won’t forget easily and they won’t get mad but they will keep it inside and then they will let it go as Egyptians have always done.

On Saturday, millions of Egyptian commuters in Cairo and Giza saw the effect of that increase first hand.
Mostly from working classes who live far away from their work, many commuters did not know about the increase except while booking for their daily trip.

People were screaming, shouting and cursing the government and El-Sisi publicly in the metro stations. Videos and photos showed even small protests that broke randomly in Helwan or Marg station by commuters.

Many workers and low-income employees live in Helwan and Marg stations, they are affected. Here is another small protest filmed on Saturday at Helwan metro station

Saturday afternoon witnessed attempts of Youth attempting to protest the new increases in Sadat Metro station aka Tahrir metro station but they were quickly dispersed by security forces.
Protester in the metro
The sign says Sisi "Bey" Sisi Bey which is honorary Turkish title",
the Metro fare has become 7 LE "Karim Mamdouh" 
The youth who were actually three people including two girls were arrested and facing a number of charges including illegal assembly, destroying a public property and attack civil servants while doing their work.
Those protesters are detained 4 days pending investigation.
It is worth to mention that according to the law regulating protests in Egypt if three are gathered and protested something it is not only a protest per law because their number is less than 5 people.

In very quick response, the Egyptian Co. for Metro Management & Operations claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood was behind the unrest that took place in several metro stations.
Blaming all things on the MB and its members who are mostly in prison has become very silly.

Anyhow raising the fare of the metro ticket means also raising the fare of the informal mini-buses and micro-buses which are used mainly by the working class.
The people are not giving up without a fight.

On Saturday we saw calls for commuters to boycott the Metro service starting from Sunday till Wednesday through a Facebook page. 

I believe there are commuters or citizens from the low working class who can not even afford to boycott the metro before Ramadan because they do not want to lose their jobs if they arrive late.

On the same day, a group of youth made a mobile phone application where citizens can exchange their tickets without paying more money if they go far away stations as I have understood. It works so far on Andriod.

This is just the start of a very long hot summer that will bring more economic shocks to the Egyptians as more so-called economic reforms will be taken thanks to the IMF loan.
It is expected that the government will cut fuel subsidies which means shit will hit the fan once again and we have a surge in the prices of commodities everywhere.

Personally, I think that decision will be taken in Ramadan while millions of Egyptians are fasting and are praying for Mohamed Saleh and the Reds to win in the Champions League.
This is my own prediction based on the past experience of that regime that cares less about people’s anger.

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