Checkerboard progress in Egypt
As Cairo says goodbye to its unruly fleet of black-and-white taxis, opinions are divided. Some will miss their chaotic charm but many believe an overhaul is overdue, says Trends magazine.
February 21, 2010 5:12 by Louis M. Wasser
Chaba says that the government negotiated low prices with manufacturers and also took other steps such as removing customs duties on imported components. For a number of reasons including the elimination of customs duties, he says a Lanos taxi bought through the program is around 25 percent less expensive than purchasing a Lanos retail.
Buying a new taxi will force drivers to pay more for fuel, however. Most of the older taxis burning gasoline use 80-octane fuel, and for the new cabs using gas, drivers will have to purchase higher-octane fuel. The government has been working to phase out energy subsidies, and in summer 2008 the price of gasoline was raised for almost all grades of fuel, except 80-octane, which remains cheap.
Chaba explains that new “taxis have to use the higher-quality fuel – which is less subsidized by the government – so the government actually ends up saving money because they don’t have to lose the subsidy amount on this [80-octane] fuel.”
While some drivers point to high gasoline costs, Youssef says that the program offers different options, including cars run on natural gas – which he says is even less expensive than 80-octane fuel.
The program still faces difficulties. In addition to the waiting list, there are insufficient arrangements for shredding the old cars – which have been stacking up. This month, there will be an auction to sell the taxis from the project, with the buyer having to recycle it.
- Trends magazine