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COP 27 Special edition

260 electric or gas buses, 11,000 people transported at peak times

Publié le: dim. 20/11/2022, 00:17

COP 27 was also the challenge of transporting participants from the various accommodations to the Sharm el Sheikh International Conference Centre.

Electric buses in Sharm el Sheikh for transport system. Ph.: ACTA

A double challenge, one might say, because the system put in place was not only able to convey everyone, but above all it was carbon neutral.

Tuesday, November 15, it is past 9:00 p.m. We arrive at Fares Sea food, a restaurant in town where seafood is the main menu. It is actually a complex with a snack bar on the upper floor and a dining room that can accommodate about twenty people on the ground floor. On site, we find several small groups, having left the airport 3 quarters of an hour earlier.

All had an appointment that evening for dinner, a little over a week after the start of the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP 27), the United Nations conference on climate change. There was no other agenda than to thank all the teams who worked on setting up and running the conference transportation system.

The dinner is chaired by Dr Hesham Taha. He is the CEO of Mwsalat Masr, a transport company, which is a stakeholder in the holding company set up by the government to manage transport in Sharm el Sheikh during COP 27. Indeed, private companies have been invited to the government structure ACTA, for Administrative Capital Transport Authority, responsible for transporting the participants of COP 27.

Between 40 thousand and 50 thousand people, representing 133 countries attended the conference. For the Egyptian Minister of Transport, Kamel Elwazir, transport being the second source of atmospheric pollution, it was necessary to avoid that the mobility of the participants who came to Sharm el Sheikh leaves a carbon footprint greater than that which existed before this planetary event. The COP is the official framework for finding solutions to environmental pollution. We must do everything we can to lead by example. Especially when the line is to organize “a COP of the implementation” of the decisions taken during the previous COPs and never implemented.

140 electric buses and another 120 gas buses

Everything has therefore been done to avoid fossil fuels, gasoline and diesel, in particular. All the buses in the system ran on electricity or gas. In all, 260 buses were mobilized. New vehicles but especially electrics vehicles and gas vehicles. “There were 140 electric buses and 120 gas buses,” confirms Sayed Metwalli, CEO of land transport in Egypt, one of the main representatives of the transport ministry in the system.

"The whole system was put in place within 6 months, with the objective of making it work not only for the COP 27 delegates but also to serve the city of Sharm el Sheikh", says for his from Dr. Ahmed Elkafoury, from the Mwsalat Masr company. "We were able to transport up to 11,000 passengers at the same time at peak times," says Mr. Elkafoury.

The buses ran on 8 lines, with 2 depots, one dedicated to electric buses from where they charged the batteries and the other for gas buses. The 8 lines were interconnected by 4 transfer stations, especially for the COP 27 delegates whose main sites also hosted the said stations. The entire vehicle fleet was managed in real time by a Network Operation Center (COR). A sort of centralized bus traffic control post.

“What is notable is that the COP sessions ended every evening at the same time and thanks to the COR, we were able to easily redistribute the traffic by assigning the buses where needed”, summarizes Dr Ahmed Elkafory. “The center was also in contact with the drivers to take care of any mechanical and technical problems they might have,” he explains. Users also had an application to know the times of bus passages or even to find out about the numbering in order to better orient themselves.

The government has brought together all the stakholders for optimal transport: planners, IT technicians, traffic managers, etc. For Mwsalat Masr company, “the transport experience set up during COP 27 in Sharm el Sheikh is unique. It is a great success that deserves to be replicated in other african countries”.

Sharm el Sheikh's road network has also been reinforced

It must be said that before circulating these buses worthy of developed countries, Egypt thought of rehabilitating the entire road network of Sharm el Sheikh. From the airport to the international conferences center, everything has been redone. The pavement resized in places and the structure of reinforced bitumen everywhere. “It also took us 6 months,” says Sayed Metwalli.

Located on the edge of the Red Sea, the city of Sharm el Sheikh has benefited, since last May, from no less than 27 major national projects in preparation for COP 27. which they call the "Midle Road" or even "King Salman's Road". There is also the construction of 5 new axes, according to a press release from the governorate of South Sinai, dated May 2022.

Until the end of October, the work continued and almost all the districts of the city were served. “We were pleasantly surprised at the change in the city. There are roads that have become totally new”, testifies a taxi driver.

Cycle paths and pedestrian crossings have also been developed. And for the night visitor as well as for the resident, the streets of Sharm el Sheikh shine with a thousand colors after dark. According to the authorities, an envelope of at least 650 million dollars has been released for all the work.

COP 27 participants and residents of Sharm el Sheikh seem to appreciate the gesture. No one dares to issue orders on the public highway. The city remains clean, despite the mobilization experienced by COP 27...

Barthélemy KOUAME

Special Envoy to Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt)


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