Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Huge Informal Parking Business in Cairo

In the streets of Cairo, a huge informal parking business is thriving. The parking business is pretty informal and can fluctuate widely with time and place. A person just goes and stands near a parking lot, which is actually nothing but a normal pavement in any busy street, and employs himself as the valet of that portion of the pavement. In Arabic, the word for valet is "sayes" سايس or "monady" منادى.

Some informal valets like to select pavements that are in front of supermarkets or other shops. The frequency of cars parking, staying for a short period of time to shop from the store, then leaving is high thus guaranteeing the informal valet a high stream of cars parking during the day. As the car owner parks or leaves from the parking area he gives that informal valet 2 EGP. The exact amount might vary from one place to the other. The valet himself usually does not specify the exact amount but it is left to the car owner. It could be 1 EGP only or it could be 3 EGP. In some higher class areas it might jump up to 5 or even 7 EGP such as in front of City Stars in a busy weekend day on a Friday or Saturday. The amount is usually not tied to the period of time spent but is fixed regardless of how long you stay.

In case of longer pavements, usually there is more than one valet. They work in groups, dividing the long pavement among themselves. Each valet is responsible for part of the pavement and has a defined starting and ending point. The interesting thing about this informal job is that the same pavement may have different people working on it at different times of the day or even different days of the week. The amazing thing about the informal parking business in Cairo is that despite it not being regulated yet you never find valets fighting with one another and it is all run in harmony. The clash if it happens would not be among the valets themselves but between a valet and a car owner that did not want to pay or wanted to pay less than expected.

The huge spontaneous informal parking business in Egypt is worth studying. It is a thriving business that is run by a large number of independent individuals with nothing to hold them together except for informal rules and regulations they create themselves and which have nothing to do with the actual laws of the country!