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Last updated at 10:54 GMT, Monday, 04 January 2010

New taxis to reduce pollution in Cairo


23 December 2009

Air quality in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, has been ranked among the worst in the world. However a new scheme to replace the oldest taxis with new, cleaner models is helping to reduce pollution.

Yolande Knell

Traffic in Cairo

Heavy traffic in Cairo


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Cairo is notorious for its overcrowded roads, irregular driving practices and rickety old vehicles, but also for its air pollution. In recent months though, environmental studies indicate there have been signs of improvement. That's due in part to the removal of many of the capital's antiquated black and white taxis. Most of those dating back to the 1960s and 70s were in a poor state of repair.

After new legislation demanded their removal from the roads, a low interest loan scheme was set up with three Egyptian banks so drivers could buy new cars. The government pays about $900 for old ones to be scrapped and advertising on the vehicles helps cover repayments.

The idea has proved popular with customers - they can now travel in air-conditioned comfort - and because the new cabs are metered, they don't have to haggle over fares. Banks and car manufacturers are glad for the extra business in tough economic times. As for the taxi drivers, most are delighted to be behind the wheel of new cars, although there have been a few complaints about switching from black and white to a plain white colour. 'Our cabs used to look distinctive', one man told me 'they were part of our heritage, like the pyramids. If you saw them in an old movie, you knew it was shot in Cairo'.

Yolande Knell, BBC News, Cairo


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well known or famous for something bad


in bad condition and likely to break





a low interest loan scheme

an official plan to lend money to drivers specially designed so they can pay it back easily


thrown away

haggle over fares

attempting to decide a price which is acceptable to both the passenger and the driver

behind the wheel



different and easy to recognise


belonging to the culture of a particular society such as traditions, language or building which still exist from the past

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