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Auto Rickshaw: This Mini Four-wheeled Vehicle in Egypt Gets New and Home-grown Challenger

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Ahmed Saeed Omar, 35, looks on inside his new "Mini-Car-Egypt" car at his workshop, near Egypt's pyramids of Giza, in Kerdasa, Egypt, May 10, 2017. VOA
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In his workshop near Cairo’s pyramids, Ahmed Saeed Omar has manufactured a mini four-wheeled vehicle that he hopes will fill a gap in the market.

Omar’s “mini car,” a rectangular vehicle made of a solid steel body which seats up to six people, is cheaper than the widely-used imported auto rickshaw — not much more than a covered three-wheel scooter with a passenger bench — because it is almost entirely locally produced.

Prices of imported products have soared since Egypt devalued its currency in November as part of measures to stimulate the economy.

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A rickshaw can cost around 38,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,105)and has a 175cc engine, while Omar’s mini car costs 34,000 pounds and has 300cc engine.

“This is a better alternative to the [rickshaw], more cost-efficient and more spacious,” Omar, 35, told Reuters. Three-wheeled rickshaws are widespread in many Egyptian cities, usually in neighborhoods with narrow alleyways, and are mostly imported from India.

Since the cost of imports has soared, Omar thinks there may be market for his design.

“The cars are in some showrooms and people have bought them,” he said. “There is demand.” (VOA)

($1 = 18.0500 Egyptian pounds)

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Water-Borne Illness Increases Sharply in Iraq

Iraq's individual provinces have been fighting for water, amid a general shortage.

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Water crisis
A girl drinks water in the street outside her tent at a camp for internally displaced people in western Baghdad, Iraq. VOA

Iraqi health officials say that a health crisis stemming from water pollution and a shortage of clean drinking water has worsened in recent days, as hospitals in the southern port city of Basra treat more than 1,000 cases of intestinal infections on a daily basis. The problem was exacerbated several months ago when Turkey cut back on water distributed to the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

A crowd of young men took to the streets on in the southern port city of Basra Tuesday, demanding the central government and Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi increase the quantity of clean drinking water allotted to their province, otherwise it’ll lead to a health crisis. Abadi vowed to increase spending on infrastructure for the province during a visit to Basra in July.

A young man, whose friend was killed during a rally several weeks ago, broke down and sobbed over the protesters’ inability to force Iraqi leaders to improve the condition of public services in Basra, especially the region’s worn-out water infrastructure and insufficient quantities of drinking water allotted by the central government.

Some health officials in Basra warn that a cholera outbreak is possible due to water pollution and water-borne parasites that have made thousands of people sick in recent days. The director general of the Basra Health department, Riad Abdul Amir, told Al Hurra TV the situation continues to worsen.

He says more than 17,500 cases of intestinal ailments, resulting from contaminated drinking water, have been treated by Basra hospitals during the past two weeks, alone.

 

egypt. health crisis
The water network in Basra hasn’t been updated in at least 30 years. Pixabay

 

Abdul Amir says the problem stems from insufficient fresh water supplies coming into the city via canals and water pipes from the north.

“Salty water [which has infiltrated the water network],” he asserts, “is known to reduce the efficacy of chlorine used to treat and kill bacteria in drinking water,” he said.

Safaa Kazem, a docotor who has been treating dozens of cases of intestinal problems and diarrhea in Basra’s Sadr Teaching Hospital each day, says water from the city’s supply is not safe to drink.

She says the degree of water sterilization is minimal and that Basra’s water is very salty and has an extremely high level of microbes in it, along with a high degree of chemical pollution.

Basra Governor Assad al Edani told Al Hurra TV that his province has been suffering from numerous infrastructure problems for a long time.

He says the water network in Basra hasn’t been updated in at least 30 years and the old pipes often break, mixing drinking water with sewage.

water, health crisis
The degree of water sterilization is minimal. VOA

Edani says “not enough fresh water is arriving via the region’s only canal from Thi Qar province to the north.” He thinks a “strong current of fresh water will flush out salty water seeping into the water network from the sea.”

Also Read: Iraq Lifts Ban On International Flights to Kurdish Airports

Edani adds that the population of Basra has “more than doubled since the water network was last updated in the early 1990s.”

Iraq’s individual provinces have been fighting for water, amid a general shortage, since Turkey in early June severely curtailed the number of cubic meters of water it funnels into both the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. (VOA)