Saturday, March 30, 2013

Egypt: Two Argentines, Egyptian Driver Killed, Others Injured in Aswan, Life-Safety in Question

According to the Xinhua news service, two Argentine tourists and an Egyptian driver were killed on Friday (March 29) during an accident between a tourist vehicle and a truck. Two other Argentines were also injured in the accident.

For those who don't know Aswan, it is located roughly 700 kilometers (435 miles) from Cairo. The accident occurred at the 150 km marker on the Aswan-Abu Simbel Highway.

The three decedents and the two injured victims were taken to Aswan University Hospital.

COMMENT:  Having worked and lived in Egypt a good part of my professional life, I must caution our readers that Egypt is by far one of the most dangerous countries in the world for fatal traffic accidents.

And sadly, despite the US putting roughly US$39 billion into foreign assistance in Egypt since 1974, the death toll on Egyptian roadways, many of whom are foreign tourists, has never declined.

Also on Friday, three Egyptians were killed and several others were injured when two trucks collided on the Cairo-Alexandria Highway. One of the trucks was loaded with diesel fuel while the other carried a number of workers, resulting in both vehicles being set ablaze.

On March 2, also in Aswan and on the same highway, a mini-bus overturned killing one Chinese tourist and leaving three other Chinese nationals injured. The accident came a few days after nine tourists from China's Hong Kong were killed in a hot balloon explosion in Egypt's southern province of Luxor, which in all claimed 19 lives and injured two.

Unfortunately, foreign tourism in Egypt has declined dramatically since the 2011 Revolution, influenced heavily by a central government that seems to be more preoccupied with ideology than in promoting tourism.

The New Egypt is also a country which seems to be in a daily state of crisis of one sort or the other, created largely by street protests and those in the Mohamed Morsi government that appear to be motivated largely by Islamic conservatism rather than economic development.  

Having traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, Egypt is one country that I would NOT consciously choose to visit as a tourist. It has become a very unpredictable destination where accidents, congestion and political strife dominate the landscape.

Clearly, both in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in the Middle East, there are countless destinations that offer tourists a much more pleasant and predictable travel experience than that found in Egypt, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula, where the Egyptian government has done little to deter the occasional kidnapping of foreign tourists.