Friday, May 9, 2008

A Strike of Imbaba Microbuses Drivers Turns into a Trial to a Police Officer

By Hesham Alaa 8/5/2008
A strike of microbuses driver in Imbaba yesterday, in protest of increasing transportation tariff, turned into a trial in the attendance of a police officer who came to follow up the press coverage of the events of the strike by Al-Masri Al-Youm.
Once the drivers in strike saw the journal editor, they grouped around him and started to talk about price increase of a full tank solar for the second time within 4 months from LE 8 to LE 15, while the last increase sent the price to LE 22.
This led some taxis owners to deduct the difference of fuel price from the driver's income. In return the drivers refused to operate taxis in the morning until a decision with the new tariff is issued by Governor of Giza, as the same is done with Governorate of Cairo which issued a formal statement of the new tariff.
More than 200 drivers had to go on strike and refused operating their taxis, or letting others operate them, deciding to end their strike with announcing an official increase by the governorate. Most of the drivers were involved in squabbles with passengers, who dubbed them as 'exploiters'. Some of these squabbles ended in police stations.
One person then started to threaten the drivers who spoke with us, and promised them to increase the 'carta' (the tariff). After some moments, he returned with "amin shorta' (non-commissioned police officer), who told us that we should wait for instructions of the commissioner of police station to authorize us to speak with drivers.
In a telephone call with the commissioner, he did not protest to speaking with the striking drivers, yet, Mohammed 'Carta', as he is called, said that we cannot do anything until we ask Chief of Investigations, who later sent a major officer to monitor the situation.
Once the drivers saw the officer, they started to tell him incidents related to an officer from Imbaba Police Station, and non-commissioned officers. Alaa el-Sayed al-Sebaei told him that a non commissioned officer asked him three days ago to accompany him to an 'official mission'.
When he refused, he imprisoned him from 2.00 am to 7.00 am- Ali Hussein was witness over the incident. "We are all subject to blackmailing of non commissioned officers everyday; and whoever refuses, his car will be withdrawn and he will go to jail', he added.
The officer remained listening to the 'accusations' of drivers who named several officers and non commissioned officers and accused them of exploiting their influences. We asked the officer if this happens, he replied positively but in limited occurrences.
"When such things happen, Ministry of Interior pays for the driver", he said. A large group of people who were silent started to narrate many of such occurrences, for which the officer remained nodding with his head. He commented that the person who gets involved in such incidents has to submit a formal complaint.
Driver Mohammed Sukar replied with another incident that happened to him last week. He was instructed by a non commissioned officer to accompany him to some place saying to him; "If you do not bring me a vehicle, I will shoot you with my pistol".
When we asked him to name the non commissioned officer, he said; 'He sits in that café and if the officer wants me to get him and confront him with these incidents, I will do that". The officer then said; "We are talking about the strike and do not change the issue