The number of reported car accidents in Egypt fell by nearly a quarter last year, according to new figures from the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS).
Some 8,480 accidents were recorded in 2018 compared to 11,089 accidents in 2017, a decrease of 23.6 per cent. CAPMAS explained the figures are a result of improved roads across the country.
However the death toll remains high; accidents left 3,087 people dead, 11,803 injured and 13,441 vehicles damaged. In more than three out of every four cases, the incident was the result of a fault of the driver or other passengers.
According to data from the World Health Organisation, a lack of road safety in the world is the leading cause of mortality in low-income and middle-income countries, particularly among young people.
The report also noted that whilst the rate of car accidents had fallen, train accidents had increased by 14 per cent to 2,044 accidents in 2018.
Lower Egypt’s governorates witnessed the largest number of train crashes, recording 1,364 accidents; most cases were the result of vehicle collisions, including a crash in the northern province of Beheira left 15 people dead and a further 16 injured.
Fatal train crashes and accidents have been frequent occurrence in Egypt for the past two decades. Observers attribute such crashes to old equipment, poor maintenance and inefficient government regulation.
In 2017, Egypt’s general prosecutor referred six persons to trial for “extreme negligence” after 44 people were killed and at least 200 were injured in a crash in the province of Alexandria. The country’s deadliest rail accident occurred near Cairo in 2002, when a fire ripped through an overcrowded passenger train, killing more than 370 people.
Egypt’s Transport Minister Kamel Al-Wazir announced last month that the ministry is currently negotiating a $2 billion loan agreement with some international financial institutions to finance the development of the transport sector. Under the ambitious plan, the national railway system would be completely renovated by the middle of next year.
In February, Cairo’s main railway station witnessed a major incident after a fire, leaving at least 25 killed and 50 others injured. The state-run National Railway Authority later reported that the blaze was triggered by a high-speed train colliding with a concrete buffer stop. The train’s fuel tank reportedly exploded after the crash, setting a platform and nearby buildings on fire.
The crash sparked a wave of anger across social media networks, with Egyptian activists slamming the country’s poor infrastructure. The incident had also prompted the former transport minister, Hisham Arafat, to resign and several station workers were detained on charges of negligence.