Allowing private sector to operate in railway system does not equate to privatisation: Egyptian minister

Ahram Online , Wednesday 20 Sep 2017

An Egyptian man walks at the main train station in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, April 8, 2013. (Photo: AP)

Egypt’s Minister of Transportation Hisham Arafat said on Wednesday that the partnership with the private sector to operate the country’s railway system does not amount to a privatisation of the railway service.

Arafat said told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Cairo that the cabinet has decided to amend two articles in the law regulating the State Railways Authority to allow for the first time the private sector to operate railway services in the country.

The minister said that the amendment to the law, which previously stipulated that only the Railways Authority had the right to manage the country’s railway system, gives private companies the right to manage railways on a 15-year contract.

Arafat said that the State Railways Authority itself would not be privatised, clarifying that the amendments only allowed the private sector to manage and operate the railways.

Arafat added that the Railways Authority currently serves 350 million passengers annually.

Egypt’s ailing railway system has suffered from deterioration in its basic infrastructure and safety procedures over the past several decades. The decay has resulted in hundreds of accidents and thousands of fatalities and injuries since 2000.

The government has recently vowed to upgrade the system by installing modern rails, digitalised crossing warning signals, and new carriages.

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