Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has ordered work to begin on an $8.4bn upgrade to the Suez Canal.
The upgrade will take the form of a new 72k m channel parallel to the canal and will include tunnels for trains and vehicles. The Egyptian President has ordered the work to be complete within a year, although the project is scheduled to take three, Bloomberg reports.
Head of the Suez Development Authority Mohab Mamish stated that the project will reduce waiting times for ships from 11 to three hours. The expansion will also allow two-way traffic along just under half of the canal’s length, although the rest will remain one-way.
“As global trade grows and the Egyptian economy needs to develop its sources of hard currency, we had to think about the project of digging a new Suez Canal,” Mamish stated.
A significant revenue source for Egypt, to the tune of around $5bn a year, the canal is not without controversy as shipping companies have long complained about canal toll rises.
Technical details of the channel were not announced, although the project will apparently allow 46 ships to cross at the same time, compared to an average of 49 daily crossings currently.