Traffic, the antidote to propaganda

Traffic, the antidote to propaganda

The army and the people are one hand. Egypt is above everyone. And everything. It is also more important than everyone. And everything. We would sacrifice everything for it. We make promises and fulfill them. We will build with honesty and something related to sincerity that I would have read if the car wasn’t traveling so fast.

These short poetic sentence can be found in blue-on-white signs hanging under street lights, so you can learn the value of the homeland even at night - if you squint. They are on the new and improved Misr-ismailia Road, courtesy of interim president Adly Mansour (in the presence of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi) and the armed forces.

As if having learned nothing from Titanic, I have, on one more than one occasion, bragged about how cars unfailingly maintained constant motion on this "unstoppable" road. Five lanes, I would boast -- it can comfortably take six cars and a motorcycle.

That was the case until the generals blocked it to tell us about how smooth traffic is on it and will continue to be now that they have fixed and peered over a map of it. (The very same map deposed president Morsi stood in front when he, too, was inaugurating the armed forces’ developments on the very same road with el-Sisi a few months ago.)

Sadly, the road improvements had been used too often for anyone to put another red ribbon on them now. So Mansour had to settle for inaugurating a never-before-used right turn.


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✚ In Latitude: Shortening the Workday is No Way to Regulate Cairo

✚ In Latitude:  Shortening the Workday is No Way to Regulate Cairo

This week, my Latitude post looks at the recent decision by Egyptian authorities to impose earlier closing times. I am against this — not in the absolute, but because the decision has been hastily prepared, Here's the crux of my reasoning:

This is why the government’s recent decision — made without public consultation or forewarning — to impose closing times on shops, cafés and restaurants nationwide came as such a shock. The authorities argue that forcing stores to close early will save electricity, something of a necessity because Egypt is constantly on the brink of brownouts. (This summer there were even prolonged blackouts when the national grid collapsed because of air-conditioner use). The curfew, it is hoped, will also improve traffic by sending people home early, and impose order on residential areas that are otherwise kept awake at night by street noise.

At least that’s the theory. Shopkeepers, chambers of commerce, business associations and much of the opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government say the decision will hurt an already struggling economy. Many also fear that enforcing strict closing times will only exacerbate the traffic problem, at least at certain times — especially since the government intends to impose the new rule without preparation. Metro and bus service has not been increased, for instance, and no special provisions have been made to accommodate shorter working days, like increased parking space.

After the government’s original deadline for closing most shops at 10 p.m. and restaurants at midnight — Nov. 1 — came and went with nary a change in behavior, it relented. It pushed back the curfew for shops to midnight and the deadline for implementation to next week. Some restaurants and bars will also get to stay open till 2 a.m.

Read the whole thing, of course.

Links for 07.23.09 to 07.24.09

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