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Thursday, 1 March 2018

Beheira train collision dominates talk on the airwaves; Amr Adib worries media crackdown makes us “look like fanatics”

Talk about a train collision that killed 12 people and injured 39 others in Beheira dominated the airwaves yesterday, with Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed and other officials calling up the nation’s talking heads to provide updates (watch, runtime: 6:00).

Transport Minister Hisham Arafat pinned the blame on delays in the overhaul of the national railway system, when he spoke to Kol Youm’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 4:28). He told Masaa DMC’s Osama Kamal that it will require around EGP 200 bn to complete the overhaul of the railway system, adding that 87% percent of the railway network has not been upgraded since the 1940s and that some trains date back to the 1970s. Arafat also stressed the importance of raising railway ticket prices in order to raise the sector’s revenues and fund upgrades.

Like Arafat, the head of the House’s Transport Committee, Hisham Abdel Wahed, acknowledged the need to raise ticket prices. He told Kamal on Masaa DMC that the House has passed legislation allowing private sector participation in the railway sector’s development (watch, runtime: 8:20).

Beheira governor Nada Abdo believes speed to be the culprit. She told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Nahawand Serry that human error is behind most similar accidents and said an investigation is now underway (watch, runtime: 4:51). She then told Masaa DMC’s Kamal that residents helped carry the wounded to nearby hospitals (watch, runtime: 3:53). This came as witnesses from the scene reported a delay in the arrival of ambulances to Amr Adib’s field reporter.

Elsewhere, startup firm Orcas received a EGP 100k prize in the CIB-sponsored Hona Al Shabab competition on Lamees Al Hadidi’s Hona Al Asema. Two other startups, Bekia and Flareinn, came in second and third place respectively in this segment of the competition (watch, runtime: 1:00).

The state is giving land owners a three-month window to get their legal affairs in order or see their lands seized, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy told Masaa DMC’s Kamal. He said the ministry would assess each case individually. (watch, runtime: 5:52)

MbS is coming to town: Rumor has it that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will meet with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in a visit to Cairo set to start on Sunday. Osama Kamal spoke to Saudi writer Zayed Al Roysy, who said the visit reflects the warming ties between both countries (watch, runtime: 5:45).

Words of wisdom from Amr Adib. Their relative rarity makes them all the more important to read: Amr Adib appeared gravely concerned by Egypt’s reputation in the international community, after international news outlets picked up news that pop singer Sherine Abdel Wahab received a six-month prison sentence over a joke. “This makes us look like fanatics,” he said. Adib also said that he was against taking punitive measures against the BBC for its report on forced disappearances in Egypt, which the government says is fake. He said that shutting down the BBC would “make Egypt look like North Korea” (watch, runtime: 8:54).

Top prosecutor orders staff to monitor media, take action against “fake news”: Adib’s remarks last night came after Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek urged his staff yesterday to keep a close eye on the media and take action against outlets they believe are publishing or broadcasting “false news, statements and rumors,” according to a statement carried by Reuters. Industry regulators should also report to the prosecutor any “violations of media and press ethics, he added. The order comes a day after the State Information Service called for a boycott of BBC following a critical report on forced disappearances in Egypt it said was “flagrantly fraught with lies.” The Associated Press and Financial Times also have the story.

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