El-Ayyat protests results in Mobinil unit removal

Ahram Online, Monday 6 Jun 2011

Telecommunications giant Mobinil halt construction of transceiver station after thousands of El-Ayyat residents halt railway services in protest

Railway blockage in Qena nearly a couple of months ago

Thousands of El-Ayyat residents blocked the Cairo-Asyut highway as well as railways in protest against the construction of a base transceiver station, owned by mobile operator Mobinil, on an agricultural land. They dispersped upon the removal of the unit.

The angry protesters fired rounds in the air and set the railways alight to cripple train services. They also stopped vehicles coming from or heading to Cairo, causing severe traffic problems.

For hours on Monday, security forces tried to allay the residents’ anger and restore order in El-Aiaat, Southern Giza, Cairo. They eventually succeeded without damaging the railways.

The protests which erupted noon yesterday forced 70 trains to come to a halt and disrupted the travel of over 200,000 passengers, according to Mohamed Hegazi, spokesman of the Egyptian National Railways.

“Fifty four trains have been stopped since 3:30pm on Sunday while 16 more on the same line stood still today,” he said, adding: “The demonstrators’ number has exceeded ten thousand.”

Before the end of the protests, some of the trapped passengers fainted and suffered extreme fatigue as a result of the heat, according to Mohamed Kenawi, head of the Egyptian National Railways who called on the demonstrators to express themselves “in a more peaceful way” before the end of the protest.

“Cutting railways and disturbing thousands of passengers is absurd. Most of these passengers are women and children,” he stated.

In April, Qena inhabitants also camped out on railways to object to the appointment of Copt Emad Mikhail, a former Cairo police commander, as governor.

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