The fire that erupted in the hearts of Egyptians who witnessed the catastrophe of the Al-Salaam 98 ferry, which sank causing the death of more than 1000 people, was rekindled when another catastrophe took place in Qalioub, Egypt. The inhabitants of the small Nile Delta city woke up on the morning of 21 August 2006 to witness a disaster of multiple dimensions when two trains collided causing the death of 58 people, and the injury of 143 more. The Egyptian Railway Authority has a hideous record replete with tragedies and crises, the most famous of which was the upper-Egyptian train that crashed in Ayyat village, Greater Cairo, a few years ago, causing the expulsion of the former chairman of the Egyptian Railway Authority. Once more history repeats itself as crises still occur, and it seems all the government does in response is the sacrifice a “scapegoat” without the search for the real causes and treatment, a reaction which leaves such problems to open to repeat.
In this context, Mr. Bahey Eddin Hassan, Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), said to the Wafd newspaper on 22 August 2006, that there are reasons for such train accidents to re-occur. First of these reasons is a lack of accountability and the mild application of severe punishments against real offenders, followed by the lack of legislative empowerment to question the accountability of the Minister of Transportation. Every time an accident like this occurs, there are hundreds of innocent victims. In the article, Mr. Hassan also pointed out the fact that the Egyptian Parliament has devolved into body which completely conforms to the will of the executive power, thereby restricting itself to mere issuance of legislation and under-examined projects that have the consent of the government. Mr. Hassan concluded his piece with a demand for a totally independent judiciary, because without real reform, the Qalioub accident will not be the last.
This post is also available in: العربية