By Menna Mourad
A group of taxi drivers blocked the 6th of October Bridge on Monday protesting what they claim to be unjust consequences from the government’s “white taxi” project.
One protester, Emad Shawkat, said the Ministry of Finance purchased their old taxis as scrap for EGP 5,000. They were sold newer, white taxis for EGP 60,000, only to later find out that the cars only cost EGP 35,000. Shawkat added that the Ministry of Finance subsidised the project EGP 70,000. “If they are subsidising the project for EGP 70,000, we should not be paying any more instalments; on the contrary, the Ministry of Finance owes us money.”
The protesters are demanding that the Ministry of Finance cancels the rest of the instalments they are required to pay and cancel the tax hikes that increased from EGP 50 to EGP 280.
Hany Farouk, another protesting taxi driver, said that the cars had many manufacturing defects. “The cars can’t endure the Egyptian roads.”
Protesters added that the metres haven’t reflected recent price hikes, remaining the same since 2009. They also complained about the lack of security on the road.
On the other hand, taxi driver Mohamed Mostafa said that this project was the “best thing that happened to Egyptian taxi drivers”, adding: “Ask any of the protesting taxi drivers what his car was like when taken from him back in 2009.” He admits however that the Ministry of Finance did “scam” the taxi drivers and that the cars had manufacturing defects, but he claims the Ministry of Finance is now out of the picture and their loans are currently with the bank. “They will not be able to change anything about the instalments but they may lower the taxes”.
The protesting taxi drivers claim they will protest every Monday and that they will gradually escalate if their demands are not met.