Traffic woes in Cairo

Traffic in downtown Cairo is unbelievable!

I’m no longer intimidated by the constant stream of cars, trucks, motorcycles, donkey carts, vehicles of all sorts, and all the noisy horns.  Now I step right out into traffic and dare them to a game of chicken.  I win every time!   

traffic 2traffic 3

Cairo is growing rapidly.  The greater Cairo urban region exceeds 20 million people, the largest urban area on this continent. My taxi driver said it is growing by 500,000 each year.   It would be a severe understatement to say that transportation is challenging.  Imagine being a transportation planner!

There has been some thought given to Cairo’s future urban form.  The Cairo 2050 Plan was initiated under Mubarak’s regime.  I’m going to try to find an urban planner who can shed some light on it for me, but I have found a Critique online that makes me think the Cairo 2050 Plan may have bit the dust.

Cairo 2050, if followed, would create more socioeconomic inequality and increase traffic congestion by pushing lower-income residents to the periphery of the  city, and reducing the environmental sustainability the city presently has.  Moreover this document was created in isolation and is a classic example of outdated top-down planning.

In September 2011, another critic wrote that no one wants to associate with the Cairo 2050 Plan.

 The $3.5 million study that outlined Cairo’s problems and the way to deal with them for the next generation or so is metaphorically in the dock along with the major figures of the NDP. In real life, the study is gathering dust in the drawers of the prestigious organisations that have helped put it together since 2007: the UNDP, UNHABITAT, the World Bank, Germany’s (former) GTZ, and Japan’s JICA. Cairo 2050’s local mastermind, the GOPP (General Organisation for Physical Planning), is quite reticent about it. When pressed by reporters, GOPP officials now dismiss the plan as “just an outline” or even a “dream”.

Frederick Deknatel has a very good piece in the current issue of The Nation about Cairo and the 2050 Plan, available here.

So what is Cairo doing about the transportation problems?   traffic 4traffic 1


Filed under Egypt

5 responses to “Traffic woes in Cairo

  1. This is a great article. Thanks for sharing these thoughts and for linking to Cairo from Below’s critique of the Cairo 2050 plan. While the official plan may be or may not be dead, much of the mechanisms that created the plan are quite alive in Cairo. Recent protests have asked for institutional reform of the ministries (Such at that of land and physical planning) and decentralization to governorates, as well as the creation of metropolitan governance of transportation and land use. More specifically, I encourage your readers to check out a series of ideas put forth by Cairenes and others to address not only traffic challenges but a host of other urban issues as well. They can be found at

    Thanks again for your post!

    • Thanks for this information. Is this meeting in Cairo on the 19th in Arabic and/or English?
      You are invited to join the competition entrants and judges to attend a seminar on the ideas and generated through the Cairo from Below ‘Our Urban Futures’ Ideas Competition. Our esteemed judges are in the process of evaluating our wonderful 22 entrants to make the difficult decision of who will take 1st, and runner up prizes.

      We are holding the symposium at Megawra architectural hub on January 19th from 17:00-21:00 – 17 Amin Zaki St., Ard el-Golf, Cairo, Egypt ( to announce winners and promote the growth of their ideas through a lively seminar discussion. We hope that the winners might have the opportunity to find mentorship in the future for their excellent contributions to improve issues they feel Cairo is currently facing. Please email if you can join us!

  2. Have they given any thought to population control? Population Connection is a place to start.

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