Egypt’s top railway official has been fired over repeated train deadly crashes. The transportation minister said he sacked Asharf Raslan, head of the railway authority, on Tuesday, following three train accidents in under a month that left at least 29 persons killed and at least 320 injured.
Transportation minister Kamal El-Wazir said in a statement, Raslan, who headed the railway authority since July 2018, has been replaced with Mustafa Abuel.
The termination was part of a wide-ranging overhaul of the railway system’s leadership amid public outcry. The changes also extended to the main departments of the railway authority that manages the country’s train traffic.
The overhaul was designed to “inject a number of competent professionals” amid efforts to upgrade the poorly-maintained network.
The changes came after a passenger train derailed Sunday north of Cairo, killing at least 11 people and injuring at least 98 others. That followed another train crash in the Nile Delta province of Sharqia last week that left 15 people wounded.
After Sunday’s crash, president Abdel Fattah El-Sissi announced the establishment of an official commission to investigate its causes. Prosecutors also launched their own probe.
On March 25, two passenger trains collided in the southern province of Sohag, killing at least 18 people and injuring 200 others, including children. Prosecutors blamed gross negligence by railway employees for that crash.
The country’s railway system, one of the world’s oldest, has a history of badly maintained equipment and poor management.
The government says it has launched a broad renovation and modernization initiative, buying train cars and other equipment from European and U.S. manufacturers to automate the system and develop a domestic railcar industry.
El-Sissi said in march 2018 that the government needs about 250 billion Egyptian pounds, or $14.1 billion, to overhaul the run-down rail system.
Hundreds of train accidents are reported every year. In February 2019 an unmanned locomotive slammed into a barrier inside Cairo’s main Ramses railway station, causing a huge explosion and a fire that killed at least 25 people. That crash prompted the then-transportation minister to resign.
In August 2017, two passenger trains collided just outside the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, killing 43 persons. In 2016, at least 51 people were killed when two commuter trains collided near Cairo.
Egypt’s deadliest train crash was in 2002 when over 300 people were killed after a fire broke out in an overnight train traveling from Cairo to southern Egypt.
Mali Union Embarks On Four-Day General Strike Over Pay
Workers in Mali have embarked on a strike in what is reported to have paralysed economic activities in the country since Monday.
The National Workers’ Union of Mali (UNTM) began a four-day strike to demand better living and working conditions after negotiations with the interim government over wages, bonuses and allowances failed. The strike is said to be widely observed.
Among other demands, the Malian civil servants also want all teachers in community schools to be integrated into the public service.
National workers’ union has warned that the strike was “renewable through next week, and would be unlimited from the week of May the 28th.
The union has asked its activists to remain mobilized and determined for the full success of the strike. The Malian national workers union UNTM which brings together several associations and unions from the public service is the largest trade union in Mali.
UNTM represents teachers, gold miners, health workers and various essential services.
Recent months have seen mounting public anger over the slow pace of socio-economic and security reforms by Mali’s transitional government.
Several other strike notices have also been issued and the opposition movement that galvanized protests that topped former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta also intends to resume demonstrations.
Mali’s interim prime minister has been charged with appointing a new government following his resignation and subsequent reinstatement on 14 May.
Uganda To Share Intelligence With Congo On Islamist Rebels
Uganda said on Monday it has reached an agreement with neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to share intelligence and coordinate a new push to combat Islamist rebels who have been blamed for worsening violence in DR Congo`s east.
A week ago, officials said the two countries would set up an operations centre in eastern DR Congo to fight the rebels, known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Spokeswoman for the Uganda people’s defence forces Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso said there will be coordination, sharing intelligence, sharing information and all sorts of security nature kind of activities.
The United Nations said the violence in eastern DRC killed 850 persons last year.
In March, the United States labelled the ADF a foreign terrorist organization because of alleged links to the Islamic state group.
South Africa Begins Second Phase Of COVID-19 Vaccination
South Africa says it has begun second phase of COVID-19 vaccinations targeting people 60 years and older. It is also aiming to finish vaccinating the country’s 1.2 million healthcare workers this week.
The health ministry said it was avoiding long queues in the second phase of the vaccine rollout by using an electronic vaccination data system – where people would register online and receive instructions through a text message.
South Africa plans to inoculate five million citizens by the end of June. The nation has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Africa – with more than one and a half million infections and 55,000 deaths.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize said the country was due to receive 325,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Sunday, making the total doses of the Pfizer vaccine nearly one million.
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