Cab drivers demand changes in new fare regulations
Cab drivers in Egypt - YOUM7/Islam Osama

CAIRO: Taxi drivers are in a state of panic following a decision by the Cabinet to raise fuel prices in order to ease the budget deficit.

“I won’t use my fare meter,” one driver who wished to remain anonymous told The Cairo Post Saturday.  “After the sudden increase in oil and fuel prices it’s not logical to keep calculating fees with the same old methods and prices, moreover, I have bills to pay, as I run my taxi with natural gas.”

“It’s going to be a big crisis for everyone and the government alone is responsible,” he said.

He added that many taxi drivers can actually cheat on calculating ride fares by manipulating their meter to illegally increase the fixed price.  The driver said that by using this method he can offset his losses, but he does not like this “twisted” way of doing business and that is why he has chosen to turn his meter off.

But despite protests from taxi drivers, officials say the fuel increases will actually benefit the working class.

“These increases were necessary to fix the abnormalities inside the Egyptian market… it’s done for the sake of the next generation and low-income people,” said Cairo Governor Galal Saeed on the 90 Minutes television show Sunday.

Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail told Al-Ashera Masa’n television show Saturday that any rise in the transportation fee would be very limited, as the government will not allow anyone to abuse the fuel price hike. “Everything is under control,” he said.

According to brand new regulations on cab fares resulting from the fuel cost increase, ride fares start at 3 EGP (42 cents) instead of the previous 2.50 EGP, and every kilometer will cost 1.50 EGP instead of the previous 1.25 EGP.

However, cab drivers have protested the new fare rates as being disproportionate to the increase in fuel prices throughout Egypt, in some cases blocking streets.  “It should be 5 EGP at least,” drivers told Al-Shorouq in comments published Sunday.

“We announce our rejection of the newly issued government order for raising fuel prices, as we cannot bear that amount of money,” the Helwan Independent Union for Road Transport Workers said in a statement Sunday. “We refuse to pay while wealthy businessmen are not paying appropriate taxes.”

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