Egypt’s incidents: Human mistakes or political disasters?

During the past few days, Egypt has suffered three major accidents and many other incidents. Two passenger trains collided in the city of Tahta in the Sohag Governorate (south of the country) in the most catastrophic accident. Thirty-two people were killed, and 185 others were injured.

Egypt witnessed more after a building in Suez Bridge Street (east of Cairo) collapsed on its residents, due to what was said to be a factory below it, killing eight people and wounding dozens more. This collapse also comes approximately two weeks after the detonation of a property after it was evacuated in the Faisal area (west of Cairo), after a factory caught fire underneath the property.

The most dangerous accident on the economic and perhaps political level was the stranding of a giant ship (400 metres in length) in the Suez Canal, which led to the suspension of navigation in the canal, which means great financial losses for Egypt and huge global repercussions. These repercussions meant a rise in oil prices and the disruption of supply chains for many industries from Asia to Europe. All these events coincided with announcements of major losses for EgyptAir and the Stock Exchange.

The Egyptian Ministry of Transport was quick to announce that the train collision resulted from unidentified sabotaging on the train’s brakes, but it quickly retracted this accusation. The Public Prosecutor announced the start of investigations into the case. This confusion in the collision of the two trains was not the only mismanagement in the Egyptian government. Rather, it was preceded by the continuation of the Faisal property fire for nearly two weeks and the failure of all efforts to extinguish it.

Moreover, the Egyptian authorities’ handling of the delinquent ship accident appeared to be detrimental to itself and the world. The first government official, who is the prime minister or the minister in charge of the issue, did not come out to explain the causes of the accident and the methods that the government will deal with to solve it.

After the world and Egyptians were deluded that the matter would be resolved urgently, the image appeared for what it was, and it appeared that the ship would close the canal for days. Due to this misleading policy, hundreds of ships stopped behind the delinquent ship, and some had to travel thousands of kilometres around the Cape of Good Hope. Thirteen ships were stranded in Bitter Lakes after the Cairo authorities asked them to move and wait there for several hours.

Regarding the train crash, the unfortunate truth may be that the president and the minister (who came to the ministry from the army) were quick to make statements to lift the responsibility from themselves. They accused “unknown” people of pushing the emergency brakes. Instead of directly assuming responsibility for the president and the minister and investigating the causes of repeated disasters for trains, they resorted to the usual method of blaming Egyptians themselves.

Activists mocked the talk of those responsible for “holding the perpetrator accountable” while ignoring that the responsibility, in all cases, rests with them themselves and that the authorities all over the world bear the responsibility for these incidents. Instead of hastening to hold its citizens responsible for the disasters, it holds the responsible minister accountable. It demands, in many cases, that he resign due to this failure and the killing of dozens of citizens. Here, other questions arise: Who gave a permit to operate the manufacturers under real estate in Faisal and Suez Bridge? How is a permit granted for a factory below a residential property? If they did not obtain permits, where are the censorship, localities, and police? If the calamity occurred, then why have those responsible not been held accountable for these crimes, in which the lives of Egyptians are victims of this corruption and administrative failure.

These disasters are added to the Renaissance Dam crisis and Egypt’s failure to force Ethiopia to negotiate or stop the dam’s second filling, threatening water security in the country. It is also added to the economic failure, resorting to a policy of borrowing, and entering into the cycle of loans and debts, which plunged the country into a major crisis that will plague future generations.

Egyptian writer Yahya Mostafa Kamel says that these crises reveal Egyptians’ lies and deceit that Al-Sisi and his regime have practiced in recent years. “Reality will not soon be revealed, especially if there are successive lies and the persistence of deterioration and negligence. The question is not whether the lie will be exposed, but how long will it last? How long will he lie?” Kamel explains that the succession of crises in the country reflects the failure of the Egyptian administration and its poor capabilities. He speculates about the feasibility of the new administrative capital and the unprecedented financial spending on road and tunnel construction projects, in light of the inability to manage priority issues.

The writer Omar Samir says, “In Egypt, an official who is higher or lower than his position does not admit to mismanagement at all, not to mention that one of them dares to mention about the mismanagement of the military and their calcified methods of administration and operation.”

It is noteworthy that the Egyptian Minister of Transport is Lieutenant General Kamel Al-Wazir, who was brought in two years ago from the military establishment. He was heading the engineering body in the army, restoring discipline to the Ministry of Transport. “How many calamities do we need to admit that the biggest disaster in this country is the failed administration and that this state’s machine only escalates the most stupid and corrupt?” Samir questioned.

Samir laments the Suez Canal crisis, saying that it revealed calcification in the administration inherited by the leaders of the naval forces as an end-of-service reward, and they consider its income to be part of the “army’s sweat” and the fruit of its efforts since the days of former President Hosni Mubarak. However, he concluded his speech by saying: “We are experiencing a crisis in which all the data is supposed to be expected or predictable, engineering and technology, in a body that spends billions of pounds annually on its management and senior leaders and enjoys reasonable and unreasonable profits.