Product Transportation in Cairo
In business, a product entails something that has been /can be placed in the market for sale to meet the needs or wants of customers. Products can, therefore, imply merchandise or items sold by the retailers. The manufacturers buy products in the form of raw materials that they transform into finished products for sale. The Cairo economy is characterized by manufacturing and service industries whose products are diverse and produced in varied quantities and qualities. The General Authority for Investment and Free Zones, GIFA, identifies transportation of products as the major economic pillar of Cairo.Major modes of product transport in Cairo
Road transport has been used in Cairo to move products for hundreds of years. The transport system is preferred in situations where speed, flexibility and low costs are needed. The trucks normally move goods below 50 tones in Cairo. The traders must also meet the vehicle import, compliance inspection, and maintenance standards for the trucks and fleets used in product transport. The major roads in Cairo that used for product transport include Farid Semeka Street, Suez Road, Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road and Mewhwar Road.
However, every trader must know and take into account certain salient features of Cairo road transport. The traders must know the maximum height, and tonnage and length limits imposed by the authorities. The government limits these aspects of load and vehicle axle to avoid damage on the road and traffic jams. The Cairo city, especially the old town where informal businesses like sale of clothes and crafts take place, have poor road systems. These parts of the city have dilapidated and inefficient cargo vehicles. The situation poses a momentous challenge to the traders because of the resultant inefficiencies, high fuel consumptions and emission of pollutant gases. Comparatively, the new town areas have newer vehicle models that are used in product transport. The traders must, therefore, factor in these aspects of road transport.
The huge population of Cairo has also contributed to the challenge of road transport. The huge population contributes to huge traffic jam that affects vehicle speed and mobility. In the process, there is a slow pace of product transportation. According to the World Bank, the estimated “annual costs of the congestion in Cairo is about US$8 billion”. The city congestion is not only a source of economic challenge but also contributes to social frustrations. All the residents across the entire city socio-economic spectrum are affected. In moving the products through road, the congestions lead to negative economic, ecological and public health challenges.
The traders must also consider the social issues that have an effect on the road based product transportation within the city. Since the beginning of political upheavals in the country, product transportation in the city, via road, has faced several challenges. There are frequent political tensions, riots and violence that affect the smooth and reliable products’ movements within the city.
The problem is not just about traffic congestion but also rather about the city and regional planning. The major cause of the transport problems is that urban and regional planners have paid attention on the economic growth while neglecting the critical issue of traffic impact assessment. There are two major causes of the transport problems in both countries. First, there is rapid increase in number of motor vehicles, which in turn causes traffic congestion and air pollution due to emission of fossil fuels. This problem can be attributed to population and economic growth. The increase in population creates increase in basic needs including transport management. The second cause is complexity of the transport sector and lack of flexibility of current transport regulation.
Cairo’s rail system is the nerve center of the city’s product transportation. The rail system is run by Egyptian National Railways, with Ramses Station being the major station. The mode of transport is preferred by the traders who prefer lower transport costs, have heavier products and long distance to cover. According to the Oxford Business Group, the Cairo “rail transport is 40% cheaper than road and the rail network exists 12m-tonne freight capacity is fully utilized”. The means of transport is relatively speedy and not prone to delays and traffic jams. To ensure easier product movements by rail, many Cairo traders purchase haulage packages via freight companies. The companies offer logistical support and tracking of goods. In Cairo, the economically viable option is having about 300 tons of products or more for payloads.
However, Kaysi and Chaaban, argued that Egypt as a whole has ancient railroads with the tracks laid on rather soft soil basement. The condition affects the efficiency and safety of the product transportation-fast movement of trains with heavy loads is affected. Newer rails with standard gauge should be built to enhance business efficiency and competitiveness.
The focus for the rail transport should also be on sustainability and conservation. The city requires better and more energy efficient rail systems such as electric rail system. The action would help reduce the harmful emissions from the old trains within the city and the negative impacts on human health, the atmosphere, and whole city ecosystem.Air transport
Cairo is served by a robust airport, the Cairo International Airport. Cairo traders who are in need of speedy and reliable transport opt for airfreight. However, this means is very expensive and rarely used in products transport within Cairo. Cairo is served by cargo and passenger airlines that carry many products from within and outside the city and country. Cairo has very organized and professional freight forwarders at the airport and airstrips. Many traders who use airfreight prefer to use the forwarders to organize and move their products. However, the means of transport has many hidden costs such as surcharges, handing fee, custom and duty charges.
The preference of air-cargo by the elite Cairo traders can be attributed to several factors that position the facility as the best in the region. The Cairo Airport is served with five terminals purely dedicated for cargo transport. According to GIFA, the five terminals mainly handle products like “textiles and agribusiness products exports”. Following the expansion of the facility, the city has recorded a steady increase in the volume of air-cargo, with more than 60% of being products for the export markets. GIFA projects an average annual growth of 3.5 % by 2016 for the cargo, with an expected more than 800,000 tons of cargo airlifted by the year 2025.Water transport
Water transport is very developed in Cairo. For many centuries, the Egyptians have moved across the Red Sea and river Nile, transporting goods. This mode of transporting products is preferred by the manufacturers a, importers, and exporters because of the flexibility. However, products can only be moved along the ports and the river. The Suez Canal has also contributed to the ease of water transport in the city . Cairo has several specialized ships for product transport. The Cairo sea port has container and cargo ships. There are bulk carriers that move unpackaged products, grains and coal. There are also tanker ships for fuel and oil.Courier transport
Many traders in Cairo are fast adopting courier based transport to move goods within the city. The courier services are sought for small and light products because of the speed, reliability and security. However, courier transport is very costly. However, they are cost-effective for transportation of products over short distances.Product transportation choice: what Cairo Traders consider
The Cairo traders put several factors into account when the best product transports system. The factors are dependent on the nature of the goods and the logistics. The logistical aspects of the product transport choice include the urgency with which the products must be delivered, the transport cost and the budget and the quantity of the products.
Consequently, the budgetary constraints play a big role in the choice of product transportation mode. The traders with limited budgets go for cheaper options such as road while those with more money and bigger profit margins go for air transport and hired car deliveries. The speed with which the items are also needed determine the choice of the transport means. For the perishable items such as fresh fruits, flowers and milk, faster means of product transportation like road and air are used. For the nonperishable items such as building materials from the surrounding deserts and oil, rail transport is preferred.Factors contributing to the development of product transportation
The expansion of the Cairo product transport can be attributed to several factors. These factors relate to the economic activities, the policies and commerce in particular areas. With the expansion of trade and commerce in Cairo, the demand for different products has led to the growth of the freight and cargo services. Consequently, the numbers of vehicles on the road that move products have increased leading to pollution. The rapid expansion of the Cairo market led to the development of the railroad and river canals for transportation of goods in the markets. In the 20th century, the agricultural sector expanded and brought good opportunities for manufacturers, craftsmen, farmers, and entrepreneurs. Economic changes in Egypt characterized by market liberalization led to technological advancement, development of recreation facilities and migration; and eventual demand for more products. The transformations in the city led to need for a better means of transport to ensure that the products reach the intended destinations.
The major problem facing many urban and metropolitan areas in Cairo is how to cope with the increasing demand for movement of persons. Transport congestion, traffic safety, and air pollution are top policy issues for the national and local governments in the city. However, the government has responded to this challenge through the ‘underground metro tunnel’. The network that is currently under expansion is used by “taxi and public bus fleets in Cairo, offering duties and tax exemptions to accelerate the replacement of old inefficient vehicles with more efficient ones, the construction of a bus rapid transit system in Amman, and electrification of existing diesel trains on some routes” .
It is recommendable that a careful and a broad based approach transport system be implemented to address emerging challenges while fostering the positivity of the current product transport systems. Such approaches may include attempts to reach specific groups of business through a customized approach, economic empowerment, holistic interventions strategies and trainings on better product movements.
Similarly, since the product transportation sectors consume large amount of nonrenewable energy resources, there is urgent need to design and plan an urban environment that addresses poverty, health, development, ecology and the environment. The holistic plan should consider the Cairo metropolis and the projected city growth in the foreseeable future. One of the positive effects of the new urbanism, which should be the guiding principle in the poverty and traffic congestion reduction strategies, is the resultant physical spaces that come with it, spaces which according to Podobnik fosters “new patterns of residential interaction”.
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