CAIRO: Trailer truck owners said they will not abide by a relatively new law forcing them to either convert their vehicles to smaller trucks or to sell them, challenging President Hosni Mubarak’s orders not to extend the four-year grace period they were given to adapt to the new law.
“The issue is too big, bigger than what the president can imagine,” said Mohamed Abdel-Meniem, spokesman of Union of Car Owners. “There are 70,000 trailer trucks [in Egypt].”
Last Saturday, during the inauguration of the Saft El-Laban highway, the president said the grace period shouldn’t be extended, citing traffic accidents.
But according to Abdel-Meniem, the issue isn’t just about the deadline.
“We are not going to agree even after 20 years, and we don’t care about anybody in the government,” he said.
Trailer trucks are not the reason behind road accidents, he claimed, saying that small trucks cause more crashes. The new law, he continued, wasn’t well-studied.
Abdel-Meniem said that the replacement process has not yet begun, adding that the owners will refuse to convert their trailer trucks.
“Even if we agreed, mechanical mistakes during the conversion process might lead to more accidents.”
In July 2008, parliament approved a law that banned trailer trucks, saying they were behind the rising rates of highway accidents.
The law initially gave trailer truck owners four years to replace their vehicles with smaller ones or make the necessary changes. In 2009 the term was reduced to two years. But protests extended the grace period again, setting a 2012 deadline.
“The government has to create a timeline that all concerned parties agree upon so that there is enough time for the replacement/conversion process to take place,” Hamdy El-Tahan, head of the transportation committee of the People’s Assembly, told Al-Shorouk newspaper.
While El-Tahan said that there are 34,000 licensed trailer trucks, Abdel-Meniem contested that more than double this number are on the road.
Abdel-Meniem stressed that two years are not enough to complete the process. He claimed that since there are only 10-12 workshops and factories capable of converting the trailer trucks, it will take much longer than two more years to convert all 70,000 trialers.