Wednesday,13 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1241, (9-15 April 2015)
Wednesday,13 December, 2017
Issue 1241, (9-15 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Almost done

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eco
Al-Ahram Weekly

Fewer than four months remain before the official opening of the new Suez Canal waterway on 5 August 2015. But a lot has already been accomplished, according to testimonies from members of a group belonging to the Egyptian Sports Culture Association who have just returned from a visit to the site, writes Inas Mazhar who joined a boat tour through the new waterway.

The group, which has paid several visits to the site since August 2014, was stunned to see that almost 75 per cent of the project had been completed. “Where has all the sand gone,” asked Ashraf Sobhi, assistant to the minister of youth and sports who had taken part in the visit. "I've been here twice. On the first visit it was a desert and sand was all over the place. On the second visit, there were changes but still the place was recognisable. Now, all I can see is water and a real canal. It is really impressive," Sobhi told Al-Ahram Weekly.

The new canal will officially open next August as scheduled and as requested by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, Suez Canal Authority head of planning and board member Mahmoud Rizk told the group. "We have started planning for a legendary opening ceremony just like the previous one which took place on 17 November 1869,” he said. According to Rizk, the work is due to be finalised in early July, with the following month being dedicated to testing the ship crossing and preparations for the opening ceremony.

Some LE60 billion in the form of investment certificates were sold in an eight-day record time to fund the construction of the project. President Al-Sisi also issued a decree late in March to offer new certificates to the public in order to generate further revenues for the development of the canal, though the decree did not say how much funding was needed nor by when.

The new waterway increases the capacity of the original canal to 97 ships per day by 2023, up from the current 49 ships per day at present. It also steps up the permissible draft to 66 feet all through the Suez Canal. This should raise the competitiveness of the canal among other alternatives. The expansion should increase Suez Canal revenues from $5.3 billion at present to $13.27 billion in 2023.

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