A revolution to end traffic jams in Egypt

A rise in car ownership and bad traffic leads young Egyptians to create social media and web-based networks to ease road congestion.

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    Commuters in Cairo’s rush-hour traffic.
    Dylan Martinez/Reuters
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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

The complaint in Cairo is that zahma, Arabic for traffic, has become atrocious in recent years and is only getting worse.

Some point to ever-expanding population growth or easy loans leading to more car ownership or ongoing political instabilities as reasons behind the bottlenecks that weigh down daily life here.

Some young people who are fed up – and those emboldened by a wave of social responsibility since the country’s Arab Spring revolution – are doing something about it. They hope social media and mobile and Web-based tools will help ease road congestion.

A group of young professionals troubled by their long work commutes launched EgyptCarpoolers.com (in English), which allows users to offer and request rides. They say it saves gas and helps the environment. There are plans to add content in Arabic.

In another effort from Egypreneur, a network of young entrepreneurs, founder Abdelrahman Magdy says the public will be involved in finding solutions in their upcoming, multifront “Za7ma” campaign. Mr. Magdy, who listens to audio books while stuck in traffic, says they’re developing a portal where people can post ideas, videos, and tech expertise to create a one-stop-shop app that addresses traffic concerns. They’re also planning a social-media blitz and organizing off-line dialogue events around the issue.

They call it a grass-roots movement. “It’s about the public thinking differently and believing that they can make a difference,” Magdy says.

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