There were few objections when the tuk-tuk first made its way into our backstreets, but soon it was running wild in densely-populated districts and before long was dominating some areas of Cairo, Giza and other Egyptian towns. Still the police and traffic authorities did not question, regulate or license these petrol-driven vehicles.
The tuk-tuk now swallows up a large share of vehicle dealerships and the market is flooded with easy payment facilities. They can be driven by anyone, even young children and elderly men. They are now so universal that it will surely not be long before they make their way Downtown. For some they make transport easier and cheaper: there is no fixed price and payment is casual.
Confiscations and detentions
In the absence of control and traffic regulations, the number of accidents involving tuk-tuks is rising. And at last the police seem to have woken up to the reality of the tuk-tuk, launching a campaign against the tuk-tuk and its drivers in Cairo and Giza and confiscating vehicles and detaining drivers and owners.
Yet the question remains why importation was allowed from the beginning and why restrictions and regulations were not enacted for marketing, operation and locations where they could be used, as well as taxation.
Some 60 or 70 years ago the horse-drawn carriage was the usual means of transport in Cairo. The carriages had registered numbers and licenses. The older people among us remember the discipline, safety measures and security that were imposed. The State which more than half-a-century ago could impose discipline appears to have lost that ability today. And it may be useful to remember that a government which cannot impose discipline will find scarce respect among the people.