Ibrahim Abdel-Aziz, a member of the House of Representatives for the constituency of the eastern cities of Cairo, submitted an urgent request to the prime minister demanding the relocation of the toll gate of the Suez Road from its current location to beyond the city of Badr.
The MP said that the current location of the toll gate at the beginning of the Suez road violates Article 53 of the constitution, because it is considered discriminatory in terms of geographical location.
Article 53 of Egypt's constitution says "all citizens are equal before the law. They are equal in rights, freedoms and general duties, without discrimination based on religion, belief, sex, origin, race, colour, language, disability, social class, political or geographic affiliation or any other reason."
Abdel-Aziz argued that all the suburbs and cities of the capital should not have toll gates for citizen to drive to their homes, adding that the roads within the capital are not travel roads that necessitate the imposing of fees.
The toll gate of the Cairo-Suez road, which was recently constructed and operated for the first time on Thursday, is located on the road before El-Rehab and Madinaty residential projects, in addition to El-Shorouk and Badr cities.
To drive through the new Cairo-Suez road toll gates, private cars pay EGP 10, microbuses EGP 10, minibuses EGP 15, buses EGP 30 and trucks EGP 30.
"The Cairo-Suez road serves New Cairo city, which contains the first, third and fifth settlements, as well as El-Rehab and Madinaty residential projects. Imposing fees to use the same road to reach Madinaty, which is administratively attached to New Cairo City, without imposing it on the rest of the housing complexes and projects in New Cairo City is no less than geographical discrimination that is criminalised by Article 53 of the constitution," Abdel-Aziz said in a statement.
Abdel-Aziz said that the city of Badr, which is located beyond the gate, is inhabited by about 19,000 lower income families, and some of them live in apartments that are smaller than 55 square metres.
"Among them are youth at the beginning of their careers," he said, stressing that surely some of them have cars that were bought in instalments or with loans.
There are no alternative routes that residents of these cities can take to go to their homes, he noted.
"Not only does the toll gate’s current location violate Article 53 of the constitution, but it also contradicts the directives of the president to build new urban cities on the outskirts of existing cities and encourage young people and residents of slums in the central governorates to move to them," he said.
He said that toll gates "will also cause an increase in the prices of goods and the cost of collective transportation from the capital's new urban cities of Badr and El-Shorouk to the centre of the capital," and added that the expenses of transporting workers and school and university students in the cities of El-Shorouk and Badr "will also rise as official figures indicate that they live in the centre of the capital."
The toll gate sparked widespread criticism on social media platforms from residents of the four residential cities, not only over the extra fees, but also due to the traffic congestion caused by the gate.
Videos taken by the drivers recording their experience during the first hours of operating the toll showed them passing without paying, allegedly for not having money. Such situations were recorded in various videos that went viral on social media, resulting in security forces being deployed at the location of the toll gates in the following days.
“We are not used to paying tolls to drive around Cairo," one of the residents of Madinaty residential project, who preferred to speak in condition of anonymity, told Ahram Online.
The state has the right to impose fees on the new axes that shortens trip time and represents an alternative to the ordinary route, “but we don't have other alternatives to the Suez road to drive home,” the resident said.
Another resident of El-Shorouk City believes that the problem is not only with the EGP 20 which he currently pays daily to go work and drive back home, but in the 30 minutes waiting on the now-congested road to reach the toll gates.
On Friday, Magdy Anwar, chairman of the board of directors of the National Company for Roads, told MBC Misr that these fees are used to raise the efficiency and maintenance of roads periodically.
"President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi toured the toll gates on Friday to evaluate the situation after the congestions the gates witnessed the day before, and ordered an increase in the number of lanes and outlets of the toll gates to reduce congestion," Anwar said.
He also stressed that coordination has been made with city heads to provide more outlets to make it easier for citizens to apply for annual subscriptions for the toll gates.
The first day of the activation of the Suez road toll gate witnessed the accumulation of citizens on the sole subscription outlet, located near the toll gates.
The annual subscription cost is EGP 1,010, including EGP 50 for the one-time paid car sticker.