The Egyptian government has issued instructions to ban tuk tuks on the grounds that they are unsafe and unlicensed, which will put thousands of drivers at risk of losing their livelihoods.
On Monday Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly told the Ministry of Finance that tuk tuks should be phased out over the next three years.
Madbouly has said that the new programme to replace the three-wheeled vehicles, also known as auto rickshaws, with gas-powered microbuses will offer thousands of job opportunities, but locals are worried it will mean the complete opposite.
New tuk tuks cost around 34,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,073), whilst used go for around 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($610). Microbuses cost a lot more, at roughly 90,000 Egyptian pounds ($5,486).
Drivers are being asked to make the difference up in the form of soft loans, but the thousands of people who cannot pay the difference or the interest on the loans will simply lose their livelihoods.
Despite this, the programme is already being implemented. In early September authorities ordered factories not to produce the three-wheeled vehicles.
Local authorities in Badr City, Cairo governorate, 6 October in Giza, Kafr El-Batikh in Damietta and Gerga in Sohag have confiscated a number of tuk tuks whilst state-run newspapers loyal to the regime and its policies have echoed calls to ban them.
According to the state-owned Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) between 2014 and 2016 only 99,000 tuk tuks were registered whilst over three million remain unregistered.
The government has said that they are used to carry out crimes because they don’t have license plates to easily identify them.
Drivers have asked why all motorists have to be punished for the mistake or actions of others.
The government has tried to get rid of tuk tuks for years, in 2014 banning imports of the vehicles but allowing those already registered to continue to operate.
Last year Secretary of the Parliament’s transportation committee Khaled Abdel Azeem said tuk tuks are turning parts of Egypt into slums whilst its drivers say the tuk tuk is ideal for maneuvering around narrow streets and unpaved roads in parts of Egypt that have been underdeveloped by the government.
In 2016 a tuk tuk driver appeared on Al-Hayah TV show hosted by Amr Al-Leithy in which he spoke about poor living conditions in Egypt and how he cannot afford to buy the basic necessities he and his family need to lead a dignified life due to the government’s economic policies.
The video circulated on social media but was later deleted by authorities who went on to suspend the programme and say that the tuk tuk driver was a supporter of the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
Sheikh Mazhar Shaheen later appeared on television to say that the Brotherhood had trained 1,000 tuk tuk drivers to spread pessimism among the people.
One month later Al-Leithy was banned from leaving the country.