A two-year-old bill regulating street parking has been referred to the State Council for approval.
The referral followed parliamentary approval which came two years after the House of Representatives’ Local Administration Committee first gave its consent to the law in April 2018.
The new legislation regulates the work of sayes, informal parking attendants, and specifies parking spaces, times and fees.
The bill establishes a committee in each governorate mandated to determine parking spaces so as to prevent random parking leading to traffic congestion.
The new law sets conditions for the issuing of licences to parking attendants. They must be 21 or older, be in possession of a certificate issued by the forensic or central laboratories of the Ministry of Health stating that the attendant is drug-free and have no criminal record.
The licences will be valid for three years and cost a maximum of LE2,000. Attendants who work without a licence could face fines of between LE5,000 and LE1,000 and up to six months in jail.
Few Cairo drivers are ambivalent about the work of the sayes who — in the best cases — directs them to a good parking spot in a crowded street and — in the worst — just stands there implying he owns the street through frantic hand gestures.
The law stirred controversy on social media platforms. A group on Facebook, No to the Sayes, No to Bullying with a Licence, attracted more than 15,600 members in less than two weeks. Members of the group complain they were waiting for a law to protect them from unscrupulous parking attendants, not to legalise the phenomenon.
Rami Magdi, 35, works in the crowded Mohandessin district of Cairo and deals with a sayes on a daily basis. “My place of work doesn’t have parking spaces so I pay around LE150 to LE200 a month to the sayes to take care of the car. Frankly, he doesn’t deserve the money. He does nothing. It isn’t really a job, it’s more a form of blackmail,” Samir says.
Yasmine Mohamed, 29, insists she only pays the sayes to avoid being harassed. “He is useless. Not only does he distract me when I am trying to park, he frightens me. I refuse to leave my car keys with an unknown sayes. I only pay parking fees to avoid harassment and intimidation.”
MP Ahmed Al-Segini, head of parliament’s Local Administration Committee, told the press that the draft law aims to improve street use and punish those who simply extort money from drivers.
Mamdouh Maklad, the MP who submitted the draft law, told Al-Ahram Weekly that it will allow parking lots to be organised and end acts of bullying which had harmed the image of Egypt.
“In recent years the sayes has become a nuisance to locals and tourists. Parking has been unregulated for too long. The new law was an urgent necessity,” Maklad told the Weekly.
The new law allows the state to regulate parking spaces, timing and fees and allows for licences to be issued to private security companies via tenders.
“It will lead to a win-win situation. The state will benefit financially from the tenders. Citizens will benefit from the proper organisation of parking spots and the sayes will benefit from the legalising of his work. He will enjoy a stable income and social insurance,” says Maklad.
But many attendants don’t see it that way.
Amr Mohamed, 28, asks whether he needs to be retrained to work as a sayes.
“I inherited this profession from my father. I have three children and I pay for my mother’s medical treatment because she has no pension. I am uneducated, and this is the only work I can do,” says Mohamed.
Others, though, see positive aspects to the new legislation. In the Nasr City district Gamal, 46, works as a sayes at night and a security guard in the morning. He is looking forward to being accorded clear legal status.
“Given the cost of living, and the fact I have two children, I have had to search for additional jobs to increase my LE1,800 salary,” Gamal says, adding that he will be among the first to submit his papers and apply for a sayes licence.
Asked about complaints made by drivers when dealing with a sayes, Gamal says maybe they are right. He admits that “many are rude and greedy.”
*A version of this article appears in print in the 5 March, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the title: Dedicated parking