Los Angeles, CA – The Egyptian government has reportedly launched a new project to construct a “new” Suez Canal that will run for 45 miles parallel to the existing waterway.
According to the Head of the Suez Canal Authority, Mohab Mamish, the new canal “will reduce passing ships’ waiting time from 11 hours to as little as three hours” as they move from Port Said on the Mediterranean to the Red Sea terminus of Port Tawfiq.
The existing canal is too narrow for two-way passage, so transiting ships are moved in convoys or use bypasses.
The original, sea-level canal extends for 102 miles and has been the major route for shipping moving between Europe, India and the Far East since it was completed in 1869 after ten years of work. In 24 hours, the canal can handle as many as 76 ships.
The Suez Canal, a major chess piece in international geopolitics for all of its 145 year existence, earns Egypt about $5 billion annually, important for a country that has suffered a reduction in tourism and foreign investment over the last three years because of Egypt’s continuing political tensions.
The new canal is expected to increase annual revenues to $13.5 billion by 2023, said Mamish. The total estimated cost of drilling the new channel would be about $4 billion and should be completed in five years, he said.
Egypt, said Mamish, will eschew using foreign companies to build the planned canal and instead use its own firms, a move expected to create several thousand, much-need jobs.
At the same time, Cairo has said a consortium including the Egyptian Army will develop an international industrial and logistics hub in Suez to attract more shipping and logistics business to the country.