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Microbus nightmare never ends
By Hagar Saeed - The Egyptian Gazette
Monday, March 26, 2012 05:28:55 PM

Cairo - "The backseat takes only three passengers, please get out of my bus," a violent-looking driver told a passenger in Maadi. "But there is enough space for four," replied the passenger, who was getting nervous because of the drivers’ aggressive attitude.

"I won't say it again. Get off and take another bus," the driver responded. The passenger left, since he didn’t want a fight.
Although microbuses are the most frequently used means of transportation (86 per cent) after the metro, according to the Information and Decision Support Centre, they are quite dangerous, due to excessive speed, aggressive driving and stopping wherever they please.
"Microbus drivers block the main roads, jump the traffic lights, don't respect one-way signs and ignore pedestrians," complained Mona Fathi, 27. Her walk to work has become a nightmare experience because of the microbuses.
Eman Fawzi, 45, a civil servant, took microbuses in Nasr City when going to work. She often saw microbus drivers quarrelling violently with their passengers over the fares, or with other motorists blocking their way.
"Some drivers are thugs or ex-convicts. The passengers don’t want to antagonise them; it’s much too dangerous! One day I decided to stay at home to avoid the daily headache. I was really scared. But a few months later, I had to work again because we needed my income. Now I take the metro, it’s a huge detour but so much safer," Fawzi explained.
Sami Mohssen, a 40-year-old teacher, is equally upset about the microbus drivers' provocative and aggressive behaviour.
"They often charge too much by dividing their route into several sections and exploit the passengers as much as they can," Mohssen complained.
However, he has sympathy for these drivers; they have to stand the endless traffic jams and pollution.
"It’s true that they often resort to violence, but they have been unfairly marginalised and discriminated against,” Mohssen added.
Some psychologists think that financial hardship, poor education and bad treatment by the police are responsible for the drivers’ unruly behaviour.
In the past, the police treated them violently if they refused to pay bribes or fines. Emad el-Kabeer is a famous case in question; his torture at the hands of the police was captured on video and widely circulated on the Internet.
In 2006, microbus driver Emad el-Kabeer filed criminal charges against Captian Islam Nabih and Corporal Reda Fathi, both officers at the Boulaq el-Dakrour police station, for torturing and assaulting him while in police custody. They were sentenced to three years in prison with hard labour.
"The police and the microbus drivers have both been corrupt. The drivers paid bribes so the police would look the other way or face physical abuse. Since the disappearance of the police during the January 25 revolution, the microbus drivers take advantage of their new freedom; they drive much too fast and run over pedestrians," said Dr Ahmed Abdullah, a psychology professor at Ain Shams University.
"Most drivers don’t have much of an education. They are without skills and don’t know how to respect others. When for example a microbus driver interacts with a highly educated passenger, it can easily turn into a fight," Dr Afaf Ibrahim, a professor of sociology and psychology at the National Research Centre, told The Egyptian Gazette.
Dr Afaf also explained that after long and hard working hours, the drivers lost their temper and behaved rudely.
She suggested that a microbus drivers’ union should be established to defend their rights, resolve their problems and create awareness campaigns to boost their psychological state. The positive results would be reflected in their actions and behaviour.

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Microbus drivers, taxi drivers, both need to be better regulated (along with a long list of other services here). I am sick of arriving in Ramsis station and having to walk past conmen waiting with their meters turned off, looking to get 20+LE for a 10LE journey. They are taking up all the spots right in front of the station, blocking a prime location from honest drivers (there may be some honest ones waiting, but I am not taking my chances). The few (I hope) bad apples are ruining it for all the honest and hardworking drivers and workers out there.

Unfortunately, this is just a symptom of a bigger problem. I'm thankful I don't have to use microbuses often.
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