Egyptian government to ban import of 3-wheelers

AP News
Posted: Feb 12, 2014 12:34 PM

CAIRO (AP) — The Egyptian government will outlaw the import of three-wheeled motorized vehicles known as "tok-toks" in an attempt to alleviate traffic congestion, officials announced Wednesday.

Tok-toks, though not allowed inside Cairo, are common many of the poorer neighborhoods on the outskirts of the capital and are widely used in the countryside. Many Egyptians feel their appearance in central districts following the 2011 uprising is a sign of declining standards of law and order.

Egyptian state television says the Cabinet decided that it will stop imports of new tok-toks for at least a year, as a trial. The government will also prohibit the import of parts for at least three months.

Former President Hosni Mubarak championed the vehicle as part of his 2005 election platform to create jobs.

Since then, the Indian-made model has proliferated around the country, with boys as young as ten working as drivers.

The tok-tok is largely seen as one of the affordable means of self-employment for young men who have no other prospects for work in a country where experts estimate youth unemployment at over 30 percent. The government, though it initially sought to license each vehicle, has struggled to keep up with their burgeoning popularity.

Wednesday's decision is not the government's first attempt to rein in street unruliness, which many believe to have boomed following the 2011 uprising that brought down longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Police do sporadic raids on the vendors that set up near metro and street corners, sometimes trampling entire markets.

Rami Rizk is one of the managing officers for El Maher Trade Company, a major tok-tok seller. He said the company had not received any official announcement from the government about their operations. He said he and other managements had been in a meeting all afternoon to discuss the day's news.

He said he was sure whatever decision the government makes, he is sure they have the best interests of the country at heart and have conducted studies to arrive at their position. "Whatever is done is done for the good," he said.