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Critics question Egypt and Siemans $23bn high-speed railway deal amid economic crisis

A train drives from one station to another in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on May 28, 2018. - [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
A train station in Cairo, Egypt on 28 May 2018 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP.Getty Images]

Egypt's transport ministry and Siemens have signed a memorandum of understanding over a high-speed electric railway set to be built in Egypt which will link the northern and eastern coasts.

The railway, which will connect Ain Sokhna with the New Alamein city and pass through the Administrative Capital, will cost EGP 360 billion ($23 billion.)

General Sisi has, in the past, refused to develop Egypt's railways on the pretext that it would cost too much at roughly EGP 10 billion ($638.4 million.)

Citizens complain about poor maintenance to the roads and railway lines due to corruption, lack of investment and poor management. In 2017 alone there were 1,657 train accidents.

READ: Egypt's failure to pay $128mn debt to medical manufacturers led to oxygen crisis

News of the huge investment comes as Egypt reels from an economic crisis following the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, so much so that last year it requested an emergency fund to deal with the repercussions from the IMF worth $2.2 billion.

An anonymous source this week revealed that Egypt's oxygen crisis in hospitals was down to the government's failure to pay debts worth $128 million to the companies supplying it.

In 2015 rights groups criticised a deal between Egypt and Siemans to build three 4.8-gigawatt electricity plants at a cost of $7 billion.

They questioned where Egypt would find the money for such a deal, and why Germany would continue to encourage trade and investment with the north African country in light of its human rights abuses.

An editor-in-chief told Egypt Watch yesterday that the CEO of Siemans guaranteed Germany's support for Sisi's regime if he awarded the power plant project to Siemans.

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