While Egypt's economy is displaying the green shoots of recovery, citizens are enduring relentless price rises covering everything from water to metro tickets.
At Cairo's al-Zahraa metro station, nestled among red-brick apartment blocs in a middle income neighbourhood, 46-year-old Omm Mohamed laments the government's economic overhaul.
"The burden has become too heavy, it has become unbearable," she said, adding that the rise in metro ticket prices has particularly affected her daughter, who takes the metro to work at a private hospital.
On top of the metro fare, Omm Mohamed's daughter, who earns a "modest salary", is one of many Cairo residents who has to take tuk-tuks and microbuses to work.
On May 11th a uniform two-pound ($0.11) metro ticket was replaced with fares ranging from three to seven pounds ($0.16 to $0.39). Barely a year ago, fares cost just one pound ($0.05).
The latest fare rises sparked street protests last month, with security forces arresting around 30 people and later releasing some of them.
'The burden will double'
Egypt's austerity policies are tied to $12 billion in loans from the International Monetary Fund, secured by Cairo to ease a fiscal crisis that saw its deficit balloon to 12.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015-16.
On Saturday (June 2nd), the government announced a hike in drinking water prices that in some cases exceeds 45%.
Further measures are to come, with energy prices due to rise in July.
"The burden will double," Omm Mohamed said.
Seeking to cut the country's deficit, authorities also have introduced a value-added tax, cut fuel subsidies and increased electricity prices.
Officials are repeatedly warning of more electricity price hikes and a reduction in fuel subsidies, prompting media outlets to prepare the public for the changes.
Last week Al-Ahram newspaper ran a front page about the price of oil, stating fuel subsidies cost the public purse 104 billion pounds annually ($5.8 billion).
The government has yet to announce the scale of the next price increase and cut in subsidies.
But Alia al-Mahdi, an economics professor at Cairo University, said the metro protest set off "alarm bells".
"The Egyptian people have suffered many shocks in the last two years in consecutive price increases," she said.
The metro ticket change alone saw transport costs jump from 5 or 6% of poor Egyptians' total spending to 20%, al-Mahdi explained.
The rising costs come against a backdrop of economic recovery, with GDP growth increasing in the past year from 4.2 to 5.2%.
Meanwhile, inflation eased to 12.9% in April, after reaching a peak of 34.2% last July.
The unemployment rate dropped to 10.6% in the first three months of 2018, against 12% a year earlier, according to the government's statistics bureau.
Despite the positive figures for the national economy, price rises have disproportionately affected low earners, according to Omar Adly of the American University in Cairo.
"There are other means to reduce the budget deficit which could reduce the pressures on the poor and lower middle income-class," such as tax rises, said Adly, a development professor.
But the IMF contends that the bitter reform medicine will benefit everyone.
"While the process has required sacrifices in the short-term, the reforms were critical to stabilise the economy," the lender said on May 17th.
Such an economic overhaul will "lay the foundation for strong and sustained growth that will improve living standards for all Egyptians", the IMF added.