Angry residents block tracks in Giza after train kills four

Ahram Online, Thursday 17 Jan 2013

Giza neighborhood residents protest on Wednesday against government negligence after train slams taxi carrying five people at 'unsafe' railway crossing

Train collides with taxi in Giza
Residents block tracks after the train collision in the Ard al-Lewa (Photo: Snapshot from ONTV)

Four people have died after a train collided with a taxi at a crossing in the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt's capital.

The collision happened Wednesday night after a taxi drove through the Ard el-Lawa crossing in the governorate of Giza while moving in the opposite direction.

At the time of the crash, the crossing was closed off to traffic.

State media reported that the watchman stationed at the crossing warned the driver about the approaching train, but the driver did not take heed to his warning.

Mohamed Sultan, head of the Egyptian Ambulance Authority, said a woman and one of her children were among the victims killed. Their bodies were transferred to the Imbaba Hospital morgue shortly after the accident took place.

'Defunct alarm system'

Following efforts to clean-up the site of the accident, hundreds of residents in the Giza neighborhood proceeded to block the train tracks at midnight in protest to the accident, bringing train activity to an absolute halt.

Ard el-Lawa residents blame government officials for not taking heed to complaints filed by the crossing's watchmen who cited a defunct alarm system.

The watchmen say that at the best of moments, watchtower guards would inform the watchmen by calls to their own cell phones regarding incoming trains just seconds before their arrival, but this gave them little time to close the crossing manually.

The watchmen also admitted that some calls were not answered due to the charges they would have to incur when answering such calls.

In December, Al-Bedaya news website published an interview with Ard al-Lewa watchmen who at the time were holding an open-ended sit-in against the railway authority's poor conduct.

According to another watchman, the crossing's alarm used to ring non-stop for 45 days consecutively, giving off false alarms to incoming traffic on trains approaching.

Poor track record

Ard el-Lawa residents call for holding the culprits of the accident accountable, an incident that has directed attention to Egypt's decaying railways.

The accident is the second collision to occur in three days after 19 people were killed and 120 others injured late on Monday when a train traveling to Cairo from Upper Egypt derailed in the Giza town of Badrashin.

Last November, dozens of children were immediately killed when their school bus was hit by a train as it drove through a railway crossing in Manfalout, a village in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Assiut.

The same month, at least three Egyptians were killed and 30 others injured when a train crashed in the governorate of Fayoum, 100km south of the capital, Cairo.

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