by Mahmoud Fouly
HURGHADA, Egypt, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Although three-wheeled motorized rickshaws, known in Egypt as tuk-tuks, operate randomly and cause noise and traffic jam in slums and low-income neighborhoods, they are neat, civilized, orderly and run by specialized travel companies in Red Sea resorts like classy town of El Gouna, north of Egyptian world famous Hurghada resort city.
With well-paved streets free of traffic congestion and surrounded by trees on both sides, it is a common scene in El Gouna to see tuk-tuks running back and forth carrying all kinds of residents and visitors, including hotel guests and foreign tourists.
"Our tuk-tuks are completely different in terms of operation and even shape. They operate through internet applications Uber and Careem and we have specific criteria for our drivers, like having a license, an ID and fair English to deal with foreign guests," said Mohamed Saeed, a department chief of one of the companies operating tuk-tuks in El Gouna.
He added that a tuk-tuk driver must go through a drug test and have a criminal clearance report before being accepted to make sure he would not cause any trouble in the tourist resort.
El Gouna, a resort town with 25,000 residents founded only two-decades ago by business tycoon Samih Sawiris, has recently hosted a massive week-long film festival. Meanwhile, tuk-tuk companies have provided a service to take guests to the gate of the gala for free.
Adnan Mohamed, a 22-year old tuk-tuk driver in El Gouna, said that tuk-tuks are limited in number, about 25 tuk-tuks run by each of the two companies, with unified fares to any place inside El Gouna, stressing that they treat passengers friendly, honestly and respectfully.
"Tuk-tuks here are more convenient than taxis as they are a light and quick means of transport," the driver told Xinhua inside his red tuk-tuk with "Uber" poster stuck and a hotline for booking.
"We have a speed limit of 40 km per hour and we're not allowed to smoke during the ride," he added.
Mohamed Ezz, also in his 20s, said that they, as tuk-tuk drivers, respect each other's turns as well as the systemized operation of their work, and that they never drive in the opposite direction, which all made tuk-tuks a main means of transport in El Gouna.
"Most of the tuk-tuk drivers in El Gouna are educated people and many of them know how to speak English to deal with foreign customers and take them to the places they need, whether a pharmacy, a hospital, a hotel or a general tour," said Ezz, who wore sunglasses inside his pink-colored tuk-tuk, stressing that troublemakers have no place in the resort town.
In downtown El Gouna, with its various supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops and gift stores, residents and visitors expressed satisfaction with the standards of tuk-tuks and their convenience for quick errands in the small town.
"The tuk-tuks here are well monitored and run by specialized companies, where a passenger can complain if the driver does anything wrong," said Ahmed Mohamed Mahmoud, a waiter at one of the restaurants in downtown El Gouna.
The young waiter told Xinhua that the tuk-tuk drivers in the Red Sea resort are not as noisy and troublesome as in other places nationwide, noting that tuk-tuks are more convenient than taxis in El Gouna.
Nagy Milad, a veteran resident who's been living in El Gouna since it was first established, said that the good organization and systematic operation of tuk-tuks in El Gouna just go in line with the spirit and lifestyle of the resort town in general.
"El Gouna has a specific lifestyle and any misbehavior is immediately discarded. So, everyone here knows their rights and duties, and this is why tuk-tuk drivers are respectful and honest people; some of them are university graduates too," the resident in his 50s said.