New parliament heatedly debates shark attacks

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 29 Dec 2010

Shark attacks off Sharm El-Sheikh triggered heated debate in Parliament today and had MPs railing against both the government and the world at large

Zakaria Azmi
Presidential chief of staff and leading NDP official, Zakaria Azmi lambasting government ministers in parliament over failure to deal with shark attacks (Photo: Al-Ahram)

The recent shark attacks off the shores of the Egyptian Sinai resort of Sharm El-Sheikh brought the ministers of tourism and environment and the governor of South Sinai under fire in the People's Assembly today.

Zakaria Azmi, a leading member of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and chief of the presidential staff, accused the government of showing paying insuficient attention to the threat of shark attacks and to the damage these might cause to the huge tourism industry in South Sinai.

“I just wonder,” said Azmi, “why the minister of tourism kept silent throughout the days of the crisis, which left on tourist killed and four injured.” Azmi added “as for the minister of environment, Maged George, he was visiting Mexico for no discernible reasons, while the governor of South Sinai was just busy issuing orders regarding swimming and diving, without offering a real solution.” In general, said Azmi, the government completely failed to deal with this crisis, as it has with other previous crises.

Azmi, went on to wonder “why a few sharks in Sharm El-Sheikh have attracted such immense international attention.” He claimed “In Florida, in America, for example, there were 800 shark attacks in 2010.”

Sharing Azmi’s apparent bout of paranoia, NDP MP Magdi Allam, an environment expert, complained that “the world in 2010 witnessed 1012 shark attacks, 885 in America alone, and 265 in South Africa.” So, wondered Allam, “why the world was up in arms when just two or three shark attacks hit the shores of Egypt.”

Nabil Hashad, NDP MP for south Sinai, accused the governorate of South Sinai of failing to find a swift solution for the crisis of the shark attacks.

“This crisis was expected because some ships, passing through the Straits of Tiran, dumped dead sheep, near Jordan’s Aqaba, and it was this that triggered the shark attacks in the safe waters of Sharm El-Sheikh,” said Hashad.

Meanwhile, MPs also blamed both the ministries of transport and tourism for the tragic tourist bus accident, which left eight American tourists dead in Aswan. Gaber Abu Khalil, NDP MP for Aswan, said the 360-kilometre road between Aswan and the tourist city of Abu Simbel, is just a two-lane road. The lack of services and traffic guidelines has most drivers on this road exhausted and erratic, he added.

“The Ministry of Transport promised to allocate LE2 billion for the upgrading of the road, transforming it into a four-lane highway,” said Abu Khalil, pointing out that “the ministry's promises have never been fulfilled.”

Omar Haridi, another NDP MP, charged that drivers selected by tourism companies for transporting tourists are second grade. “This is the responsibility of the ministry of tourism, which should exercise greater supervision over tourism companies, especially when tourist victims of bus crashes have become far greater than those who previously fell victim to terrorist attacks,” said Haridi.


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