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Monday, 29 March 2021

…all the livelong day

MPs are calling for a joint parliamentary committee to oversee plans to upgrade the country’s ailing railway infrastructure in response to Friday’s train crash in Sohag that killed at least 19 people and left 185 injured, Al Mal reports. The committee — which would be made up of the transport, communications, and budgeting and planning committees, among others — would investigate how funds are being allocated to railway upgrades and call on Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir to draft a comprehensive plan to improve rail safety through more automation in control and signaling. El Wazir said following the incident that the government has earmarked EGP 225 bn for the rail network.

The transport minister’s absence from parliamentary proceedings yesterday drew criticisms from some MPs, including the deputy head of the House Budgeting Committee Moustafa Salem, Al Mal says.

Friday’s tragedy has prompted fresh national outcry over the state of the country’s rail network, which Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly admitted has suffered “decades of neglect.” Official figures show that thousands of incidents have occurred over the past decade. The most recent major crash happened in 2019, when a train ploughed into a platform in Cairo’s main Ramses Station, which killed 31 people and injured more than 40.

ALSO FROM THE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE- A bill to amend the law governing the Cotton Arbitration and Testing General Organization, and grant the authority oversight over all stages of the ginning process, was approved by the House yesterday. The amendments impose a maximum jail sentence of six months and a maximum fine of EGP 1 mn for anyone found to have obstructed access to cotton records. The bill will now make its way to the State Council (Maglis El Dawla) for a final review before being ratified by the president.

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