Protests in Cairo over metro fare rises

CAIRO – Dozens of Egyptians have protested at Cairo metro stations in a rare display of public discontent as the government tightens spending and pushes austerity measures, according to posts on social media.

The government raised the price of tickets on Cairo‘s loss-making metro on Friday, more than tripling some fares and setting off a wave of angry reaction on social media.

Posts showed people demanding it rescind the decision, with some jumping over ticket barriers, apparently refusing to pay the new fares.

"We will not move, we will not move," a small crowd chanted at Dar el-Salam station in south Cairo as policemen looked on.

Interior Ministry and metro officials could not be reached for comment. It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the recordings.

Even small protests have been rare in Egypt since the army ousted President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist, in 2013 following protests against his rule. A law passed in 2013 forbids demonstrations not approved by the Interior Ministry.

The fare rises came as Egypt pushes ahead with tough reforms tied to a $12 billion International Monetary Fund agreement that have included energy subsidy cuts and tax hikes and are aimed at boosting growth.

The metro system has accumulated losses of 618 million pounds ($34 million), state news agency MENA reported.

The government angered Cairo residents, already hit by a sharp rise in living costs, when it doubled the price of metro tickets last year for millions of commuters.