File photo: Egypt s government employees (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Law No. 73 for 2021 was enforced in December after the end of a six-month grace period given to employees to confidentially report their addiction and receive free of charge treatment.
The law was ratified by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in June after many road and train accidents were believed to be largely caused by mistakes related to drivers’ drug abuse.
Since 2019, authorities have been carrying out random drug tests for employees as well as drivers, including school bus drivers, as part of the state’s efforts to fight drug abuse.
In March 2021, 20 people were killed when two trains collided in Upper Egypt. The Public Prosecution then revealed that one of the two trains’ drivers’ assistants tested positive for drugs.
Over the first week of implementing the law, 25 out of 2,877 employees in the state’s administrative apparatus tested positive for drug abuse, Egypt’s Fund for Drug Control and Treatment of Addiction (FDCTA) said in a statement on Sunday.
Over the past three years, around 500,000 employees in the apparatus underwent drug tests, the FDCTA said, noting that the percentage of drug abuse has dropped from 8 percent in 2019 to 1.7 percent in 2021 then to 1 percent over the first week of implementing the law.
Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine El-Qabbaj has renewed the call for employees abusing drugs to request free treatment voluntarily and confidentially by calling 16023, the statement read.
Treatment of employees abusing drugs will be carried out in complete secrecy and no punishment will be doled out to those asking for treatment voluntarily before a testing campaign kicks off in their workplace, El-Qabbaj added.
Since the law was enforced, the 16023-hotline received 1,000 phone calls from employees in the state’s administrative apparatus, Amr Othman, the assistant minister of social solidarity said.
Those who refuse to undergo the test or deliberately attempt to flee the testing will be treated as drug abusers and their employment will be terminated, Othman said.
The goal of the law is to protect the lives of citizens and also reduce the accidents caused by the human element due to the abuse of narcotic substances, Othman added.
According to the law, state employees and civil servants will be subjected to annual random drug testing and those who test positive will be dismissed immediately without the need for judicial measures.
Any state employee who tests positive for drugs will be suspended for more than three months or until the result of the second confirmatory analysis is provided.
As per the law, the employee will receive half of their salary till the results of the second confirmatory analysis are received. If the second sample is also positive, the employee’s service is terminated.
The law gives state employees who test positive for drugs the right to appeal the dismissal decision by going to forensic medicine to give a final say on whether they really take drugs or not.
The law stipulates that those who are seeking jobs in state authorities, state administrative units, public sector companies, public utility management companies, rehabilitation centres, kindergartens, schools, and hospitals must also test negative for drugs.