CAIRO: School bus drivers, rail workers and university students in Egypt face more compulsory drug tests in the wake of last month’s deadly train crash at in Cairo.
Nearly 30 school bus drivers are being prosecuted after testing positive for hashish, morphine or Tramadol, a cheap over-the-counter medicine that is popular among low-income earners.
Twenty-five people died in last month’s incident at Ramses station in Cairo, when a runaway train hit platform buffers and its fuel tank exploded in a fireball. The driver was subsequently found to be a drug addict.
Out of 5,000 railway employees tested, many were positive, said Amr Osman, director of the Fund for Drug Control and Treatment. Exact numbers will be revealed later, he said. Now Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity has formed a medical committee to test almost 1,500 school bus drivers in the governorates of Cairo, Giza, Sharqeya, Gharbeya and Daqahleya.
Those who test positive will be referred to the Public Prosecution. Offenders will face imprisonment for at least two years and a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($574).
Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar said his ministry was also looking into drug testing university students. This would put students who were vulnerable or exposed to drugs “back on the rightful path,” he said.
“In education, we have a crucial role to combat drugs, not just with drug testing but also with raising awareness on the dire consequences of drug addiction.”
According to a 2018 study published by the Health Ministry, 24 percent of more than 10,000 students had experimented with drugs.
In the 2016-17 school year, 150 out of 4,000 school bus drivers were prosecuted for testing positive for drugs.