By MarEx 2015-06-15 15:36:27
The New Suez Canal is entering its final stage and is set to begin operations in August, according to statements over the weekend from the Suez Canal Authority.
The $8 billion canal expansion, intended expand trade between Europe and Asia, is on track to begin operations August 6.
“The digging and dredging works will conclude on July 15. The opening of the New Suez Canal will be on Aug. 6, according to the orders of the Egyptian people and the Egyptian president,” Mohab Mameesh, chairman and managing director of the Suez Canal Authority, told a news conference in Ismailia.
“Once President al-Sisi orders the start of navigation on Aug. 6, ships will be able to go through the canal.”
The Suez Canal is a vital source of hard currency for Egypt, particularly since the 2011 uprising that scared off tourists and foreign investment.
Over 41,000 workers and 43 dredging machines are working nearly 24 hours a day to ensure completion by the August deadline. According to Mameesh, eighty five percent of dredging works have been completed, with 219.3 million cubic meters (7.74 billion cubic feet) of sand excavated from a total of 258 million cubic meters (9.1 billion cubic feet). The chairman added that the new waterway would be fully secured.
“They are not only digging or dredging works, but also preparing the maritime path to be valid and secure for global navigation. We will not allow any ship to pass unless it has navigational security,” he said.
Currently, around 18,000 ships pass through the canal annually, which amounts to 10% of global maritime trade. However, Egypt hopes the expansion and accompanying infrastructure improvements will greatly increase shipping in the region.
The existing canal earns Egypt around $5 billion per year. The new canal, which will allow two-way traffic of larger ships, is supposed to increase revenues by 2023 to $15 billion, Mameesh said. It is also expected to reduce navigation time for ships to 11 hours from about 22 hours, making it the fastest such waterway in the world.
The government plans to build an international industrial and logistics hub near the Suez Canal that it expects will eventually make up about a third of the Egyptian economy.
Mameesh said he hopes a law designed to ease red tape for investors in the new Suez industrial hub will be enacted this week, adding that the new canal and the hub projects could help Egypt to realize an extra $100 billion in revenue per year.