Hisham Isawi starts his day at 6:00 a.m. leaving his house in Shammah village to reach his workplace at 8:30 a.m. in the heart of Cairo, 70 km away.
He fights a fierce and losing battle against the crowded conditions each day.
Isawi's return journey from Cairo to Banha, he told Al-Shorfa, is a "daily nightmare", which sometimes lasts for more than three and a half hours. And he's not even driving. He takes the Metro train, the suburban train, and finally the Tuk-Tuk (three-wheeler).
Millions of Egyptian citizens deal with Cairo's chaotic transportation system, which has turned into a daily phenomenon that occurs even during weekends.
According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, the population of Cairo is approximately 20 million, and the city is regularly visited by another three to five million every day, coming from the neighbouring provinces.
The number of vehicles in Cairo alone currently amounts to 14 million, according to General Sharif Jumaa, assistant minister of the interior for the Specialised Police Force, who recently provided testimony to the Shura Council on traffic jams.
According to the figures of the Information & Decision Support Centre, about 4.1 million vehicles have been licensed annually in Egypt since 2007. Cars represent 48% of the total number of private vehicles, followed by trucks and trailers at 19%, motorcycles at 16%, and taxis at 8%.
Jumaa said vehicles enter Cairo via 16 different routes, overburdening the network of roads. Making matters worse, Cairo does not have sufficient parking lots to accommodate the number of vehicles so streets leading into downtown become a huge parking lot.
Jumaa believes that the escalation of the traffic crisis in Cairo's districts took place due to "the disrespect of the construction law by many companies that built structures which exceeded the allowed heights, and opened shopping centres and banks in the heart of the city and the crowded areas without providing parking lots or garages. Of course, this causes massive traffic jams and an increase in the number of licensed cars annually."
Concern for the problem has reached the presidential level. Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Thursday (May 13th) that President Hosni Mubarak held a ministerial meeting Wednesday to follow up on projects that are intended to alleviate congestion on Cairo's streets and reduce the heavy traffic around the capital.
Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communications Ahmed el-Maghrabi said that "the meeting was a follow up to a meeting last Sunday in which the president focused on projects to reduce traffic jams in East Cairo. Yesterday's meeting discussed projects in West Cairo, according to el-Maghrabi".
Areas such as Mohandessin and Agouza, suffer from traffic paralysis every day during working hours, due to the increasing number of cars that enter them.
Mustafa Khalil, 26, an architect who works for a private company on Arab League Street said, "The traffic jam on my way to and from my workplace takes me about two and a half hours every day to cover a distance that might take no more than 15 minutes if there were no traffic jam."
"Even after working hours, Mohandessin remains crowded, as it turns into an entertainment centre, given its upscale shops and restaurants," he added.
Duha Mustafa uses public transportation to get to her work in Al-Batal Ahmad Abd El-Aziz St., and she believes the traffic problem could be solved by providing more efficient land and underground transportation networks that can serve millions of citizens every day.
According to General Jumaa, about six million citizens use microbuses while another three million use the Metro train daily.
Meanwhile, many factories and large companies have moved their headquarters to the new cities outside Cairo, particularly in 6th of October City, where there are more than 82,000 employees and workers. The majority of them return to their houses in Cairo every day after working hours, causing a massive traffic jam on Mihwar Road leading to Cairo.
Muhammad Al-Sabbagh, an employee for a large European company that manufactures cars, said that he has formed friendships with many people who take the same road from 6th of October City to Cairo, because "we spend long periods in stop-and-go traffic."
He added that some of his friends "make use of the traffic jam to do some late work on the phone or laptops, as the journey back to Cairo takes about an hour and a half at least."
To reduce traffic jams, the government and civil society organisations have launched many initiatives; the latest one was a project titled "Nerkab Sawa" (Let Us Ride Together).
This project has a website that encourages the largest possible number of people to share their private cars, as long as they will take the same road to their workplaces, using only one car instead of a car for every person. The ultimate aim of this project is to alleviate traffic, but only 1,400 people participated.