Egypt has begun digging a new Suez Canal, 72 kilometres long, hoping to squeeze money from it by allowing two-way traffic on the Europe-to-Asia shipping route
Today it takes at least 11 hours, in the single lane, with passing bays. The aim is to cut this to three hours. The alternative is to ship round the bottom of Africa, many thousands of kilometres longer.
One official said expanding the Port Said to Suez shortcut will take five years. President Sissi said he hopes it’ll take just one year. The existing waterway opened in 1869, ten years in the making.
Now, a score of Egyptian firms are involved, under army supervision.
Those present at the launch of the project greet President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi’s initiative with pleasure, said one dignitary, “He has brought back our smile with this healthy project to develop the Egyptian economy.”
Today, the canal earns Egypt 3.9 billion Euros per year, which the ambitious planners project should climb to 10.5 billion Euros annually over the next decade.
Not bad for a channel that’s already 145 years old. Its early shareholders were mostly French and British, but President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalised it in 1956.