Egyptian-made double-decker buses to UK: Back to the future

Mohamed Abdel-Razek , Saturday 20 Jan 2018

Why Egypt is not heading towards the future in public transportation, road safety and emissions regulations

MCV bus
MCV bus in London (Photo: YouTube)

In 2016, MCV, the Egyptian automotive manufacturer, supplied the UK with 60 euro sixth-edition double decker buses. This is the latest technology in the world in hybrid buses powered by diesel and electricity to match the new emissions regulations in Europe.

According to Rafik Nabil, quality assurance manager at MCV, it was the first time such high technology was manufactured outside of Europe.

Many Egyptians were surprised to know that such high technology can be made in Egypt by Egyptian hands. So why does the country which produces this technology not do it for itself?

Raafat Masrouga, an Egyptian automotive expert, had some answers. “MCV doesn’t have the production powers to replace the whole public transportation fleet,” said Masrouga, who believes that the government should lead the issue by supporting such manufacturers with huge potential and long-term contracts, supporting them with resources to increase their production platforms.

On another aspect of the story, London, for example, is updating part of its public transportation system from the 1940s. But when we talk about Egypt, is it right to directly compare it to the UK and demand the same kind of transportation to operate efficiently in Egypt today?

“In public transportation in Egypt I don’t believe we have the qualified human resources to operate it efficiently,” said Masrouga who also believes that Egypt has qualified people who could put down strategies for public transportation, but will not find the right people to execute it properly.

If we started operating the London bus in Cairo today, do we have lanes dedicated for such buses on the streets to maintain an exact schedule? Apparently this is not possible, but nothing is beyond reach.

The government is planning to lift some of its subsidies on fuel and tube tickets, with anticipation from the people who might be directly affected by increasing prices. Providing wide ranging efficient public transportation seems the only way to lift some of the pressure off the back of the government and the public.

Lying ahead is the financial factor which is needed to build sturdy public transportation web with several alternatives all backing one another. “The private sector is the only way”, believes Masrouga, saying it is the only option at the moment that can provide the ideal operation resources and invest the money that the government cannot provide at the moment.

With that, all what the government can offer is lift some of the expenses helping the companies who want to invest in the public sector maintain affordable prices for the people.

That way, the government can spare subsidies on gas and diesel as well as make sure people can get the best public transportation by international standards.

At this point the Egyptian market can be a reliable consumer for potential public transportation manufacturers like MCV which can provide futuristic transportation systems environmentally friendly and not consume the government’s resources of gas and diesel.

So building a well-established transportation system is the first approach and which needs outstanding planning and execution. Then the government will find fertile soil to benefit from financially and economically and most importantly achieve public satisfaction.

*This story was first published in Al-Ahram Weekly newspaper 

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