Talk shows on 27 April 2021: Transport minister faces MPs
There was lots of news on the airwaves (by the standards of Ramadan) last night, with the transport minister’s parliamentary statement, Turkey’s diplomatic overtures, and covid-19 all getting attention.
Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir’s appearance in parliament got full coverage on Kelma Akhira: Lamees El Hadidi’s Kelma Akhira dedicated a large part of her show to covering El Wazir’s parliamentary statement yesterday. The minister has been under fire recently following several deadly train crashes, and was summoned before MPs yesterday to present his plans to fix the chronic problems with the country’s rail network. El Wazir said that the ministry will start work on 27 new projects in July that will cost the government some EGP 132 bn. This is part of a 10-year, EGP 225 bn plan to upgrade the country’s rail network that is due to finish in 2024. He also said that half of the nation’s railcars are not in working order, which he blamed on negligence and “extremist elements” in the Railways Authority.
His statement got mixed reviews: MP Atef Maghawry told El Hadidi that the minister’s statement was “satisfactory” and agreed with El Wazir on the existence of subversive elements, describing the railway sector as the "cemetery" of former transport ministers (watch, runtime 6:57). But El Hadidi questioned if the ministry will be able to improve rail safety by the end of the development plan in 2024, and demanded more information on the minister’s claims that crashes have been caused by extremist railway employees (watch, runtime 9:19).
Tougher penalties or stronger protections for rail workers? MP Amr Darwish said that tougher penalties should be imposed on railway employees linked to extremist groups or substance abuse (watch, runtime 5:40). But El Hadidi said that any change made to the Civil Service Act should be clear and objective to avoid its misuse against people having different views or opinions and thus preserve employees’ rights (watch, runtime: 2:02). Railway workers who are found guilty of criminal behaviour will be referred to the emergency state security courts and face tougher penalties, according to a recent decision by the prime minister (watch, runtime 2:02).
The Egypt-Turkey love-in got coverage: News of the Turkish diplomatic mission’s visit to Egypt in early May was covered by El Hekaya’s Amr Adib, who questioned whether the presidential summit suggested by Ankara will really happen (watch, runtime: 6:22). The upcoming meetings aren’t certain to be successful but the indicators are “almost good,” he said. Ala Mas’ouleety also had coverage (watch, runtime: 4:29)
The daily covid-19 bulletin: Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly’s vaccination yesterday and the Egyptian Drug Authority’s decision to grant approval to the Chinese Sinovac vaccine got play on Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 1:44) and El Hekaya (watch, runtime 5:29). More on this in this morning’s Covid Watch, above.