CAIRO (AP/Al Jazeera) – At least 22 people were killed and 33 injured in a car crash on Tuesday near Egypt’s southern province of Minya, authorities said.
The crash took place in the early morning when a passenger bus hit a stopped truck on a highway linking the capital of Cairo to the country’s south, local authorities in Minya said in a statement.
Authorities said in a statement the truck was changing tires on the roadside when the bus hit it in the city of Malawi in Minya province, about 220 kilometers (137 miles) south of Cairo.
Ambulances rushed to the scene to transfer the injured to hospitals in Minya.
Traffic accidents kill thousands every year in Egypt, which has a poor transportation safety record. Crashes are mostly caused by speeding, bad roads or poor enforcement of traffic laws.
As temperatures in Cairo soared to their summer highs in tandem with the academic year’s end and Eid el-Adha holidays, fleets of Cairenes have embarked on their annual migration to escape the capital’s heat, heading towards gated compounds that line its northwestern Mediterranean Sea shores, where cooler breezes blow over pristine beaches.
Their hours-long commute to the North Coast, or El-Sahel, takes them along a newly-modified highway that has sparked recent controversy for its complex layout, which incorporates nine “maze-like” suspended roundabouts and two-way service roads.
Following instructions by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, renovations done to the Alexandria-Matrouh Highway – more commonly referred to as El-Sahel Road – were designed to minimize road collisions that have killed thousands, and increase traffic capacity.
“Before the upgrade, the old El-Sahel road used to be one of the most dangerous roads in Egypt, yet remained one of the most frequented,” a source at the Arab Contractors, the state construction giant involved in many of the government’s infrastructure projects, told Al Jazeera.
Yet, many users of the revamped road have been quick to point out that its “flawed” design could potentially lead to it defying its goals. Social media users shared videos of vehicles coming face-to-face with other vehicles in a gridlock on the flyovers as drivers struggled to figure out where their exit was.
“It felt absolutely chaotic,” said Sandy El-Nouby, 26, a vacationer who recently travelled the highway. “There were little to no direction signs along the road. For someone driving there for the first time after the renovations, I drove 14 additional kilometers because I did not know which sub-road or bridge goes where,” she said, describing the journey as stressful.