By THE NATION
The expansion of the existing shipping lane, along with the opening of the new lane, further cements the Suez Canal as one of the most important and valuable canals in the world, Egyptian authorities said.
After 12 months of work, the new waterway now allows simultaneous northbound and southbound vessel transit for the first time in its history.
Streams of world leaders and dignitaries from the business community turned out to witness the historic event.
The project, which raised US$8.5 billion (Bt300 billion) in six days in its first round of funding, is expected to gather revenues of $12.3 billion annually by 2023, more than doubling the canal’s current revenue intake.
Sisi said he hoped the canal would become a symbol of the new Egypt, a gift from the nation to the world, and a demonstration of the determination and commitment of the Egyptian people.
The new canal, built parallel to the existing Suez Canal, is expected to see a nearly 50-per-cent increase in vessel traffic by 2023, taking the daily transit volume from 49 to 97. Moreover, transit time for southbound vessels will be reduced by up to eight hours in total.
More than 43,000 workers collaborated to complete the project within a calendar year, despite earlier estimates that it would be a three-year project. The construction metrics were colossal, with excavation works amounting to 250 million cubic metres at an estimated cost of $550 million.
More than 242 million cubic metres of soil was dredged during the construction phase, resulting in a new canal stretching 35 kilometres in length and dropping to a depth of 24 metres. A national subscription was created by the Egyptian government that invited residents and nationals to invest in the canal to raise the necessary funds. A total of $8.5 billion was received in just six days.
“This is a proud day, not only for the Suez Canal Authority and President Sisi, but also for the entire Egyptian population, which has striven to achieve the near-impossible in order to make this dream become a reality,” said Admiral Mohab Mameesh, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority.
“Today, as we unveil this gift to |the world, we present a new Egypt – a more prosperous and positive Egypt. And in doing so, we place the Suez Canal at the pinnacle of the shipping industry.”
The New Suez Canal has already welcomed a number of vessels during trial periods over the last two weeks, but the Suez Canal Authority expects business to grow exponentially after the official launch yesterday.