Luxor-al-Hurghada Road Egypt
The 299 mile stretch of road that connects the tourist cities of Luxor and Hurghada in Egypt has become a notorious black spot, and one of the most dangerous highways in the world. Luxor is home to the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, and is recognized as a key tourist destination in the desert country. Grandiose temple ruins, historic monuments and tombs are scattered throughout the ancient city, which attracts thousands of tourists annually. Almost 300 miles away from Luxor is the city of Hurghada, a popular coastal town on the fringes of the Red Sea. This spectacular oasis offers visitors a chance to cool off from the sweltering heat of the countryside, providing modern amenities and fun activities such as snorkeling and recreational scuba diving in the calm clear waters. However, the journey by road between these two beautiful cities is ridden with peril, prompting many tourists to opt for rail or air transportation.
A trip along the notorious Luxor-al-Hurghada highway takes about 4 hours, 40 minutes to complete, if you can survive the journey. The tarmac road is relatively well-marked and frequently patrolled by security agents, on the lookout for bandits and extremist militiamen who reside in the rugged terrain. These criminal elements more than anything else contribute to the notoriety of the highway. Keen on undermining the bustling tourism business, these local terrorists, mostly members of the outlawed Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya Sect, are known to cause trouble for drivers along the highway at the slightest opportunity. Thus, normal drivers and truckers alike are known to avoid this route whenever possible.
Many local drivers narrate of their less than pleasant experiences at the hands of highway robbers along the Luxor-al-Hurghada. Tales of robberies, kidnappings, extortion and possible murder have given the highway a bad reputation. Paranoid drivers cruise along the road at high speeds for fear of meeting the shadowy thugs. This in turn leads to terrible crashes and collisions, as exhibited by the twisted vehicle shells that lie in some areas. Things take a turn for the worse at night. There are virtually no lights along the highway, giving robbers the perfect opportunity to waylay unsuspecting drivers. As a result, local drivers switch off their headlights at night, while cruising at deadly speeds. This is obviously a recipe for disaster, and numerous collisions along the highway attest to this fact. Some drivers and truckers are opting for night vision goggles to aid in crossing this perilous stretch of road at night.
The Luxor-al-Hurghada cuts through mostly uninhabited rugged terrain and bare hills. Thus, any driver wishing to cross the highway must make ample preparation for the trip, since there will be no stopovers. There are not pit stops along the way to fix flat tires or refuel empty gas tanks. There are no roadside motels or eateries along this treacherous road either. If your car stalls here, you are on your own, since few sensible drivers will be willing to offer assistance. Preparation for the journey is of utmost importance. Anyone who has driven in Cairo, or used the Autostrad, Alexandria Desert Road, or Ayn Sukhna Road is aware of how badly many Egyptian drivers behave behind the wheel. Incessant hooting, overtaking, cursing and jay walking are common practices on most roads. New and foreign drivers have to exercise lots of restraint and temperance while driving here. The best option is to hire a local driver, or use alternative means of transport.
In Egypt, truckers and trailer drivers are closely regulated and checked by Government authorities. According to transport analysts in the country, almost 94 percent of the country’s trade logistics are facilitated via road transportation. This has created a perennial problem of congestion on the roads, especially in growing cities and towns such as New Cairo. In turn, this has led to a sharp spike in the number of fatal road accidents in the country. Statistics from the Central Authority for Public Mobilization and Statistics reveal that a staggering 7,000 lives were lost through road accidents in the country in 2010. A total number of 24, 371 car accidents were reported, averaging about 66 crashes per day. Truckers topped the list of highway offenders in the country, responsible for almost 40 percent of the total number of crashes reported on highways.
One of the laws governing truckers operations in the country is the ban on haulage of coupled trailers. Prior to 2008, these behemoths dominated the transportation industry in the county. However, a law was passed in that year, restricting trucks from pulling more than one loaded trailer at a time. A wave of protests from truckers followed the passing of this unpopular edict; forcing government agencies to extend the adjustment period for the new law to 2012. Another law requires truck drivers to stick to roads with a width of 3.2 meters or more only. The 2008 traffic laws also made it mandatory for trucks to be fitted with digital tachographs and speed limiters. Truckers who still view these laws as unfair recently staged protests, blocking the entrance to the Ministry of Transport offices in Cairo.
The escalating number of road accidents has spurred some action from transport authorities in the country. For instance, the infamous Luxor-al-Hurghada highway is constantly under security agency surveillance, with speeding cameras installed at renowned black spots, and traffic police patrol cars on high alert. Nonetheless, security agencies claim that most accidents in the country’s roads are caused by human error. A former secretary to the Minister of Interior estimates that over 70 percent of accidents are as a result of over speeding, drug and alcohol abuse, distracted driving, and failure to avoid pedestrians. In 2008 when speeding tickets were introduced in some areas, an average of 10,000 tickets was issued to drivers on a daily basis.
A major issue of concern among truckers is the use of drugs and stimulants on the road. A study by the Ministry of Transport recently established that roughly 30 percent of truck and trailer drivers used some sort of drug or stimulant while on active duty. This is a worrying trend, given that out of 1421 accidents that happened on major highways in 2010, heavy duty trailers were responsible for 1364.
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