Choosing the best of Cairo traffic jams of 2007 is a bit like attempting to select the top Bush bumbled statements of the year, or the best Egyptian film featuring young starlets running on a beach in slow-motion: one is spoiled for choice. But it doesn’t hurt to try. Shakira’s yawn-dry serviceCairo was abuzz with excitement about the appearance of Shakira and her hips at the Pyramids on March 28 with punters prepared to pay as much as LE 750 to see her shake her thang in concert. Alas, it was not to be for many, who, after spending two hours or more in gridlocked traffic on the Fayoum Road, were then faced with the choice of either waiting (sometimes up to an hour and a half) for the buses which would take them from the parking site to the concert, or walking the distance while breathing in a lovely bouquet of sand and car fumes – only to find on arriving that the diminutive Columbian had already finished her gig.
www.qasr-el-aini-I regret-the-day-I-learned-to-drive.comFor those unfamiliar with the hell of Qasr El-Aini at rush hour, it might help to imagine the street itself as the World Wide Web and the People’s Assembly, Shoura Council and other assorted government buildings there as popular websites. Now imagine that the world and his mother wish to access these websites all at the same time; traffic overload makes everything come to a standstill.Qasr El-Aini traffic jams are so routine as to not really deserve a mention here, with the exception of that day in November when the president was inaugurating the new parliamentary session. The road was blocked for so long that drivers turned off their engines and got out of their cars. Some of them then went on to do interviews with a television crew from the omnipresent OTV, which seems to have staff on standby stationed all over Cairo.
Sun, sea and tarmacCairenes fleeing the capital this summer for the North Coast’s better climes were as usual treated to involuntary sightseeing tours of a 10-meter stretch of the Cairo-Alexandria Road because of various traffic incidents.One friend told me how he thought he would cheat fate by leaving for Alex at 6 am on a Friday morning. He had time – three hours in fact – to reflect on this decision as he waited at Midan Rimayeh for a crane parked on his side of the road to clear containers which had fallen off a lorry on the road going to Cairo. Total journey time: six and a half hours.
Presidential hopefulsShould the urge take them, astronauts would probably be able to pinpoint the president’s location from space by looking for giant traffic jams full of drivers tearing their hair out.Few celebrities have the power to stop traffic like Mr Mubarak, who visited the Media Production City this summer and in the process brought Sixth of October city to a standstill.Among the casualties were, for example, Nile FM DJ Safi, who spent over three hours on the Wahaat Road twiddling his thumbs and as a result was late for his show. While residents of Sixth of October city canceled all and any plans which required them to leave their homes.