Some 2,000 Egyptian government employees have tested positive for drugs after undergoing tests, according to the social solidarity minister.
According to the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram, the Egyptian government has made drug tests for state employees mandatory after it was revealed that the train driver of the Ramses train crash tested positive for narcotics.
In February, 11 people were arrested after 25 people died at Cairo’s Ramses Railway Station after a train crashed into a buffer stop at the station causing the fuel tank to explode.
However, the driver blamed the crash on the fact that the breaks and the wheels of the train had corroded. Egypt’s railway system is badly maintained due to lack of investment and poor management.
Of the two per cent of employees who tested positive, most had traces of cannabis and tramadol in their systems.
Tramadol is the most popular drug in Egypt, followed by cannabis and heroin. The abuse of tramadol has surged since 2010 along with the rise of poverty and the sense of hopelessness among young people.
It is estimated that drug addiction in Egypt is twice global rates with approximately ten per cent of the country – over nine million people – using narcotics.
In an attempt to crack down on drugs in the country, in January the Egyptian cabinet approved a draft law to sentence dealers to death.
This was a week after British tourist Laura Plummer was released from prison on a presidential pardon after being convicted for drug trafficking after she brought 290 tramadol painkillers into the country.
Footballer Mohamed Saleh released a video last year “say no to drugs” which went viral on social media with over five million views in the first three days of its release.
A drug rehabilitation hotline received a 400 per cent rise in calls after Saleh’s campaign.
In 2018 56 school bus drivers failed to pass a drugs test after parents reported them to authorities.