Barges banned on Nile in Cairo

New safety measures following Nile boat collision

Cairo has banned river barges from passing through the capital at night until the end of September, following a ferryboat accident on 22 July in which 38 people lost their lives.

The ferry, which had been carrying a party celebrating an engagement, capsized after being hit by a cargo ship near al-Warraq district in Giza, north of Cairo.

The captains of both vessels have been arrested on charges of manslaughter, while the heads of the government agencies in charge of managing Egypt's river transport have been temporarily suspended. The incident has led to the freezing of all new licences for marine and Nile cargo as part of a review of how the country's river transportation is governed.

Egypt's premier Ibrahim Mahlab announced the new measures after holding talks with his ministers of transport, environment, irrigation, interior and justice on 26 July.

The new legislation has banned loud music on passenger boats along the Nile and made the wearing of life jackets obligatory, while introducing harsher penalties for those caught violating the rules. The interior ministry, in coordination with the environment ministry, is introducing a campaign aimed at preventing illegal activity on waterways, including the inspection of drivers.

An official plan to develop the Nile transportation system is also being drawn up for the government which is expected to roll out the proposals as part of a national project.