Last October the internet was awash with news of Egypt’s first scooter taxi service, El Makana; a peculiar idea that, at first, seems all a bit silly and unnecessary. But designed to combat Cairo’s relentless traffic on short-distance journeys, the idea festers in one’s mind until it reaches genius.
Having announced that the service would launch in November in Zamalek and Mohandiseen, we’re now in January with El Makana nowhere to be seen.
So why hasn’t El Makana launched?
We went straight to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and spoke to one of the founders, Mina Shinoda, to ask exactly that. Naturally, we got stuck in traffic and were late.
“We’ve addressed the immediate concern of safety – all that’s left now is legality” says Shinoda with a slight tint of frustration.
According to Shinoda, after receiving approval for the business and launching their teaser campaign, they were plunged into a legal minefield because delivery bikes and scooters in Egypt aren’t licensed, leaving El Makana in a limbo.
“Whenever we start to make headway with someone in government, the person disappears and we have to start the process all over again.”
With El Makana being such a new and unique service, there’s no precedent for the type of licenses and legal recourse needed in what has turned out to be a much more complicated course of action than it should be.
“The new government is constantly talking about local industry and urging Egypt’s youth to take initiative, but do nothing to actually support us.”
“There have been other transportation services that started operating illegally and have gone on to be successful – but we don’t want that. This is a legit business and service and we want to be completely licensed for the sake of our customers. We’re ready and willing to put in all the work – but no one is giving is straight answers about what needs to be done.”
But Shinoda remains optimistic and the reaction of Cairenes have kept him hopeful, proudly pointing out that the majority of initial inquiries have come from Cairo’s female population.
“We’re ready and Cairo is ready; all that’s standing in our way is long-winded Egyptian bureaucracy.”