In other news I came home yesterday to find four fire engines parked in the street perpendicular to ours and Upstairs Auntie amongst a bunch of people looking up at the sky.
“Where were you! I rang you a million times and knocked on your door to tell you to come and look at the fire! The smoke was pouring out and the smell was terrible!” she said, almost screeching with excitement.
“Where is it?”
“It’s out now but it was on that floor up there where that boy is standing. The firemen had to use the lift: their ladders weren’t long enough.”
The inevitable exchange then developed between Upstairs A and a bystander about the lamentable lack of equipment in Egypt and, where there is equipment, the lamentable lack of knowledge about how to use it.
On a related note, I watched an item on terrestrial telly the other day in which the authorities feted themselves on the purchase of X number of new ambulances on a stretch of highway somewhere in Egypt. There will now be an ambulance stationed every 50 km we were told – in between the billion LE luxury gated-community compounds overlooking these roads.
I can’t find anything about this new ambulance scheme other than this from our friends in the Egypt State Information Service: (I copy pasted. All spelling mistakes are theirs).
One billion pound was earmarked to carry out a comprehensive strategy to develop ambulance service in Egypt, Health Minister said Wednesday 4/7/2007.
In press statements, Hatem Gabali said the service will be equipped with 3,200 new ambulances, 1,000 of which will arrive in Egypt in 2007.
Money coming from selling lands for investors in the new communities will go to this purpose, he said.
He said the strategy aims at providing one ambulance for every 25,000 people in accordance with international criteria.
The plan will be finalised by July 2008. He called on businessmen to boost the ambulance service by offering money to buy 500 mew ambulances and train ambulance teams on the latest pre-hospital care methods.
The government is thus selling land to private investors and then generously investing the profits from these sales in the purchase of ambulances because the health sector is so screwed by the reduced public sector spending implemented under the conditions surrounding loan packages that the purchase of ambulances doesn’t just happen, it’s news.
And then after all that the government still has to go cap in hand to businessmen to pay for 500 new ambulances, the most basic and most important of a state’s obligations towards its people, keeping them alive, having again been reduced to – and reduced by – business, and chance.
Gated community dwellers unlucky enough to require one of the shiny new ambulances stationed every 50 km when it is already in use should remind themselves as they expire that the impressive economic growth due in part to slashed public sector spending and reduced state interference in the economy and increased foreign investment has allowed them to enjoy their desert kingdoms and its golf courses unencumbered by anything as inconvenient as meaningful taxes or a duty to others.
Poor people taken out on one these highways should be glad that they are no longer making a nuisance of themselves and being a parasitical burden on the entity formerly known as society and remind themselves that it’s all fate.
Speaking of roads and traffic, I saw a propaganda advert for the new traffic law the other day, the one with Yosra going on about safety belts in it, and at the end it said “the new traffic law: following it is no longer optional” or something along those lines. Which means that some drivers in Egypt have been needlessly abiding by the previous traffic law for all these years when they could have been doing handbrake skids into pedestrians with abandon.
It also made me wonder whether other laws are only optional. I believe this to be the case with legislation concerning gross criminal negligence and ship-owning members of the NDP whose ships sink killing 1,000