Beheira villagers protest death of 7 pupils due to poor road conditions

Villagers in Zawyat Ghazal of Damanhour in Beheira Governorate staged a protest on Sunday after alleged poor road conditions caused a road accident involving a three-wheeled rickshaw, or tuktuk, which led to the death of 7 primary school children.

Angry mobs blocked the road in front of the village and the Beheira Security Directorate deployed troops in the area anticipating riots.

Other village residents staged a protest at the municipal council’s office, while parents brought back their children from the school midday, fearing the situation would escalate.

Medhat al-Shabrawy, one of the village residents, said that poor road conditions was the main cause of the accident.

In addition to piles of rubbish lying on the road, a gas company was also carrying out drilling operations there, making it difficult to drive on the road.

He added that a driver of a tuktuk, which was carrying the children, had to drive backwards because of the congestion of the road and the drilling , which caused it to fall into Mahmoudiyah Canal.

All of the children, who were aged between 8 and 11, drowned.

Rescuers recovered the bodies and burial sermons were held late on Saturday night.

The Damanhour Prosecution office ordered the tuktuk driver be detained for four days pending investigations.

Beheira Governor, Nadia Abdu, decided to pay 5,000 pounds in emergency aid to the families of each victim in the accident.

Road accidents are a common occurrence in Egypt, which has one of the highest recorded road fatalities per mile driven in the world. According to Egypt’s official statistics agency CAPMAS, 14.6 road accident deaths occurred every day in 2016. Every year, approximately 15.000 people die in traffic accidents in Egypt.

The World Bank recommends that the high number of deaths can be reduced by increasing funding for road maintenance – the required funding for maintenance is around US $700 million per year but only US $70 million is available -, eliminating high risk road sections, and improving railway crossings.

However, CAPMAS claims that as much as 72 percent of traffic accidents in Egypt are caused by human error.

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