Egypt bridge and road maintenance vital: experts

Bridges, such as this one under construction in Cairo, are an essential part of the city's transportation network. [Waleed Abu al-Khair/Al-Shorfa]

Bridges, such as this one under construction in Cairo, are an essential part of the city's transportation network. [Waleed Abu al-Khair/Al-Shorfa]

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Transportation experts in Egypt have called for the performance of regular maintenance on the country's roads and bridges, given their role in alleviating the country's traffic crisis and enabling the economy to function.

"It is vitally important that this part of the infrastructure be given attention due to its importance and the fact that it is a central component of the national economy, because good traffic flow in all regions naturally facilitates commercial activity," said Amer Mabrouk, a civil engineer and advisor with the Directorate of Roads and Bridges in Cairo.

"Furthermore, expanding the road network to areas outside urban centres translates into the establishment of new agricultural, industrial and residential areas," he added.

Despite the country's large network of roads and bridges, the current traffic crisis necessitates further expansion and new projects, said Mabrouk.

In 2012 there were 1,530 bridges of all types in Egypt, according to a report by the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, a 3% increase over the previous year, and 121,390 kilometres of roads, up 2% from 2011.

The majority of bridges and roads are managed by city councils, Mabrouk said, which maintain them in co-ordination with the relevant ministries and the directorate. They are empowered to act in cases where maintenance cannot be postponed, such as road or bridge collapses.

Bridges need regulation, maintenance

As the Nile bisects Cairo and other Egyptian provinces, bridges are essential for commuters and for the transport of goods, he said, and require periodic maintenance.

Mabrouk said he estimated the annual cost of maintenance work on the road and bridge network at 2.2 billion Egyptian pounds ($323 million).

Egypt's recent political upheaval has had a negative effect on the country's roads and bridges, he added, citing truck drivers' non-adherence to maximum load limits on bridges and the congestion caused by road closures.

"This caused the network to bear loads that exceed its capacity by at least 50%," he said, adding that some bridges have suffered collapses and surface cave-ins due to excessive overloading.

Maintenance teams are working with a number of specialised firms to perform urgent repair work on roads and bridges in key areas or those classified as posing a danger to lives, he said. The directorate is also reinforcing roads and bridges used by heavy-duty vehicles, he added, and co-ordinates constantly with security agencies to deter overloading.

Ismail Farajallah, a bridge maintenance official in Cairo, said a failure to carry out necessary maintenance "is a direct waste of public money and will have direct repercussions in the near future when many roads and bridges become unusable, which will cost the state's treasury enormous amounts of money to renovate or replace them entirely".

"The current situation requires an iron fist to put a stop to the encroachments, as well as a comprehensive, large-scale media awareness campaign for citizens," he told Al-Shorfa.

Mansour Gad al-Haq, director general of Al-Nisr engineering consulting, construction and contracting company and a member of the Egyptian Federation for Construction and Building Contractors, said road and bridge maintenance is an important and difficult process which has a direct impact on people's lives.

Gad al-Haq told Al-Shorfa his company conducts bi-annual maintenance work on some of Cairo's bridges, and in some cases have to intervene immediately to repair any damage caused by excessive pressure on the network.

"Emphasis in periodic inspections is placed on joints that link sections of the bridge together, metal barriers, and moisture insulation that protects the concrete," he said.

In order to cut costs, Egypt should stop the construction of new bridges for the time being and confine its efforts to performing maintenance in all provinces, Gad al-Haq said.

He added that vendor stalls must be cleared from bridges as they impede maintenance work.

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    عبد الله راجح

    2013-4-3

    No one can deny that what’s happening now in Egypt calls for reform and reconstruction as soon as possible, because obviously president Morsi is busy, because of the Egyptian government has assigned him to do, but obviously the Egyptian government will never see the roads and the bridges that they are supposed to finish it, but now we see the Egyptian people doesn’t know how to claim his rights in repairing the mains roads, because they represent a huge threat to their lives, even the bridges of the pedestrian were never good because the Egyptian government won’t do anything to repair them besides looking at other things even though the experts ensure that these roads must be repaired and that is to preserve the lives of the people.

  • عادل كامل

    2013-4-3

    Truth to be told, all Egypt needs maintenance and repair after all that is going in it right now. And you still think that people will be worried about the demolition of bridges and broken Roads and are still trying to figure out solutions. Think about the broken people of Egypt who cannot think of anything good for their country and leave the bridges alone.

  • على زايد

    2013-4-2

    Where are the experts? Finally they appeared. So, find us solutions to all the destroyed roads now. Finally, the Egyptian people are those who pay the cost. Did they forget that these roads and bridges were built by the Egyptians? All this destruction is due to the government not providing them with assistance. Really, Allah will punish all members of the Egyptian government either before or after.

  • باسل جمال

    2013-4-2

    As long as they want this country to rise, there won't be renaissance without roads and bridges to protect this renaissance and support economy. Thus, the Egyptian government should reconsider all Egypt roads especially those linking the north with the south. These roads have a lot of problems. I find no excuse for delaying such a large project of restructuring Egypt roads. Whatever cost it needs, I think there is nothing more important that the lives of the Egyptians who pay for them so much when they die on roads every day and every second due to negligence on roads and bridges. In order to have real renaissance, we need to find it on roads and bridges because the time spent on roads and in traveling and doing business is more than this spent at homes.

  • إحسان بهية

    2013-4-1

    Nobody denies that Egypt needs assistance nowadays, from all over the world because the bridges and roads fell down and roads are not valid to endure heavy transport because these trucks are loaded with goods which makes it dangerous to go above bridges and roads; also Egyptians can't even walk over pedestrian bridges because they are uneven and people are exposed to accidents. So roads in Egypt need help and assistance and these are the opinions of experts. These bridges must be repaired and fixed in order to find solutions to other problems. I'm certain that these repairs and reconstructions will cost a lot of money and the government of Egypt must make its budget in order to get rid of what happens now.

  • زياد مشاري

    2013-4-1

    The opinion of the experts is respectable and we have to adopt it, because Egypt has changed. In the past, it used to asphalt the public streets according to the highest engineering standards. However, everything today is done randomly and carelessly. This resulted in many disasters, and the souls of the citizens on the roads became priceless. The number of the victims of the car accidents amount to thousands.

  • شادي قصي

    2013-3-31

    Many roads are below average and this is considered to be negligence, but the big problem is the traffic jams which big cities suffer from, like Cairo, Mansoura, Sharqiah and Gharbiah; this is because there is no maintenance or restorations, also there are no enough bridges to ease the traffic jams, therefore the jams are still the same, maintenance is very essential because there are jams on roads and bridges. Well this jam needs regular maintenance in order not be destroyed as happens nowadays and this leads to more road accidents, particularly on high ways which links governorates together. I hope I see my homeland Egypt like Oman or Emirates in their streets and roads and bridges, by the way, the supervisors who made them were Egyptians, too.

  • سمر مرسى

    2013-3-31

    There must be new designs to bridges and roads in Egypt because current ones don't fit the number of people and cars. It reaches that during rush hours no one is able to come or go. So, with the increasing number of people that doubled so many times, there must be larger planning. Unfortunately, we still follow the old designs to the degree that there is no road in all Egypt that is usable or suitable for human use.

  • مهند المطيرى

    2013-3-30

    Well, Egypt needs a whole comprehensive maintenance campaign for all that Egyptians are exposed to, the too much jams on bridges which made them unusable because they are used for crossing, we can't ignore the political incidents that took place lastly and the amount of ruin that infected the roads which led difficulty in transportation in Cairo, and moving cargos and goods had become very difficult because big vans can't find any place to go on the road. We really need to give the Egyptians the chance to see Egypt stable and secure and far from any ruin. We hope this must be taken into consideration because we had never had the chance to reform or change these bridges, except through the initiative of Ministry of Transportation.

  • فتاح نصيف

    2013-3-29

    Of course, this matter is vital. We deserve more roads and bridges just like other countries, don’t we? We want to reduce the road accidents. Such accidents are due to the poor situation of the roads. The State pays huge amounts of money for the roads. However, the overspread corruption in Egypt hampers is what makes those roads bad after spending millions to make them. The contractors are stealing the public funds in the absence of follow-up, control and diligent engineering. I call on the Egyptians to compare their roads to those in the other Arab countries. They would see the big difference.

  • مروان إبراهيم

    2013-3-28

    If we want to talk about the roads and bridges in Egypt, we will need more than three weeks of writing about the amount of neglect and pains which are affecting Egyptians. In fact, most of the accidents result from the State negligence of these existing streets and bridges. Although we are more than eighty million people, this large number of human beings has not prompted the Government to take an interest in streets and bridges in Egypt. We should also bear in mind that the transport sector brings a lot of profits to the country but they unfortunately do neither take an interest in streets nor in bridges. In fact, developing these facilities is really vital and must be considered by experts. If the latter are monitoring the fact that these bridges and streets are vital, they have to communicate with ministers so that they will play a role in discovering mistakes and then implementing the project.