Footage showing the convoy of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi driving over several kilometres of red carpet has sparked outrage among journalists and social media activists.
Local television stations showed the president’s arrival in 6th of October City, situated south of the Egypt’s capital Cairo, where he attended the inauguration of a number of service projects on Saturday.
The rolling out of carpet on paved roads was dubbed by some as lavish and wasteful in a country where, according to a 2014 UNDP report, more than 25 percent of the population live below the poverty line.
“It would’ve been better to provide the needy with blankets to protect them from the winter rather than spending on hundreds of metres of carpets that, in any case, won’t be walked on by the president,” prominent anchor Yousef Husseini said on his show.
Husseini said that the act would not have been ordered by Sisi as the incident put him “in an embarrassing position” and called for those responsible to be held accountable.
Meanwhile, lawyer Gamal Eid took a shot at calculating the amount spent on the carpets which the envoy drove over.
“4,000-by-eight metres of red carpet equals to 32,000 square metres. [The figure multiplied] by 50 Egyptian pounds equals to 1.6m Egyptian pounds,” he tweeted.
1- أربعة كيلو متر من السجاد الاحمر = 4000مترxحوالي 8متر= 32000 متر xحوالي 50جنيه = مليون و600 ألف جنيه ، تقريبا.
2- محاكمة طفل سرق 5 أرغفة.
— Gamal Eid (@gamaleid) February 7, 2016
A spokesperson for the party Addameer National Front, Amr el-Hady, said that a red carpet of that size indicated “both the members of Egypt’s military council and the economic tycoons were pleased with Sisi”.
السجادة الحمراء بتلك المساحة دلاله على رضاء اعضاء المجلس العسكري و المسيطرين اقتصاديا في الجيش عن السيسي
ابجنا نشهيصك بصوت اللمبي
— AMR ABD ELHADY عمرو عبد الهادي (@amrelhady4000) February 7, 2016
“The carpet that the car drove over could have been used to block the holes in the shaky bridges [of the country],” one Twitter user said.
السجاد الاحمر اللي مشيت عليه سيارة ابو فلاتر . كان وفره لخواريق الكباري المترنحة .
— محمد سعد (أبو محمود) (@M5_younis) February 6, 2016
In June-July 2013, then-field marshal Sisi and the military overthrew elected president Mohammad Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, following mass protests against his rule.
Since coming into power, Sisi has cut fuel and electricity subsidies while raising taxes in an effort to stop the country’s fiscal bleeding – decisions that were considered unpopular but necessary.
The Egyptian economy, however, is still struggling to keep up with its growing population, currently estimated at almost 90 million.
Recent UN reports said that Egypt has been experiencing a rise in poverty and food insecurity for past three years, with employment rate hovering about 13 percent.