Taxi driver Saeed al-Ahmad has submitted a request to the national taxi replacement project to replace his old black-and-white cab with a modern white taxi, and eagerly awaits its approval.
He told Al-Shorfa that he hopes the new taxi will improve business, as passengers shun the old black-and-white cabs in favour of the modern vehicles.
The taxi replacement scheme is designed by the Egyptian government to help taxi owners comply with a 2008 traffic law that prohibits mass transit vehicles more than 20 years old from operating.
The scheme aims to replace Egypt's old black-and-white cabs with a fleet of modern vehicles, said Khairallah Faqi of the Ministry of Transport's Mass Transport Vehicle Replacement Fund.
The ministries of finance, environment, local development and interior have been working together to ensure the success of the project, he told Al-Shorfa.
To obtain one of the new white taxis, drivers must submit a request to the Mass Transport Vehicle Replacement Fund, along with the title and vehicle ownership papers of their cab.
Upon approval, the Ministry of Finance will take possession of the old taxi for 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($714), with these funds going towards the purchase of a new vehicle. The driver can then select a new car from the company of his choice, with the balance to be paid via a bank instalment plan, with the car as collateral.
Al-Ahly Bank, Banque Misr, Bank al-Iskandariyah and Nasser Social Bank are all offering ministry-approved, low interest rate financing, Faqi said.
Taxi owners can also seek advertising revenue to offset the cost of their loan payments.
To date, a total of 71,000 approvals have been granted to taxi owners seeking to replace their cabs, Faqi said.
In the project's first and second phases, 41,000 taxis were replaced at a total cost of 2 billion Egyptian pounds ($285 million), he said. The project's third phase is currently under way.
"The delay in completing the third phase is due to the drivers demanding that Article 6 of Traffic Law 121 of 2008 be amended to set the age of cars eligible to participate in the programme at 15 instead of 20 years," Yousri Shafiq of the Taxi Drivers Association told Al-Shorfa.
Shafiq told Al-Shorfa that 30,000 cars await replacement.
The project can "revive many sectors, including banks, local auto manufacturers, the insurance sector and other sectors related to taxi cabs", Faqi said.