Snarl-ups to start-ups: Cairo’s jams encourage tech options


Wed, 2021-03-03 02:48

CAIRO: In gridlocked and closely polluted Cairo, start-ups are trying to find technological options to unravel the transport complications for an increasing megacity already scuffling with over 20 million folks.
With solely three metro strains and overcrowded, run-down buses servicing the capital, public transport is stretched to its limits.
“The problem of traffic in Greater Cairo has resulted in very low average speeds, not exceeding 10 kilometers (six miles) per hour,” mentioned visitors knowledgeable Osama Okail, from Cairo University, who says the answer to the capital’s woes should lie in fixing public transport.
Cairo, probably the most populous Arab metropolis the place a fifth of all Egyptians reside, is ranked 30th worst on the earth for congestion, in accordance with TomTom, the Dutch car navigations programs maker.
Runaway progress has pushed the traditional metropolis to breaking level.
Egypt’s authorities has launched into an bold city transformation, however that’s primarily targeted on the development of a brand new administrative metropolis some 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Cairo.
In Cairo itself, a number of big street flyovers have been constructed to keep away from jams in densely populated suburbs, criticized by some for the architectural harm carried out in historic areas.
For middle-class shoppers, ride-hailing and supply big Uber and its Middle East subsidiary Careem have moved to plug the hole of poor public transport.
But tech-savvy Egyptians are additionally on the lookout for their very own homegrown options.
They embrace the start-up Transport for Cairo (TfC), which launched an in depth mapping of town’s routes together with casual transport networks to supply “actionable and high quality data.”
The information is used “to improve urban mobility,” to assist commuters finest navigate town and minimize down journey instances.
“By mapping large cities and using the data for future planning, we are hoping to change them for the better,” mentioned TfC co-founder Mohamed Hegazy.
“We are working with the authorities to change the way the system works.”
For now, a casual system of minibuses, motorized rickshaws, taxis, and tens of millions of non-public automobiles clog town’s city arteries bumper to bumper.
TomTom calculates {that a} Cairo driver wastes over 5 days a yr sitting nonetheless in visitors.
That has a dramatic affect on work productiveness, including as much as as a lot as $eight billion misplaced annually, in accordance with a 2014 World Bank examine.
It estimates Cairo’s visitors congestion may value Egypt as a lot as 4 p.c of its total GDP.
Making journey less complicated is one solution to get commuters out of personal automobiles and onto public transport, decreasing congestion on the roads.
Another start-up, Ocra Wallet, is making an attempt to digitise the estimated $30 million circulating as money every day in commuter fares via its telephone app, creating contactless cost to pay for tickets.
“We are working to make payments for transport easier,” Ocra founder Khalid Khaleel instructed AFP.
Ocra, which implies fare in Arabic, is subsidising ticket costs by promoting promoting to non-public bus firms.
“The money that comes from that we use to help users as well as drivers,” Khaleel mentioned, including he believes that by stopping the dealing with of money, the app may help minimize coronavirus transmission too.
Meanwhile, ridesharing service Tink hopes to interrupt into the carpooling sector, with an app that creates social networks of widespread pals going to the identical vacation spot.
“We have turned carpooling more into social gatherings,” mentioned one in all Tink’s founders, Adel Al-Mahrouky.
Traffic snarl-ups imply greater ranges of dangerous emissions, with air air pollution costing some one p.c of GDP, the World Bank estimated.
For Egyptian tech specialists, the hope is on-line options may help make a lot larger adjustments.
Map-maker Hegazy believes his information can set Cairo on the trail towards “the ultimate goal” — of decarbonizing the transport community.
“Everything must be electric,” he mentioned.

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