CAIRO: Egypt on Thursday opens the New Suez Canal, an extension which flanks the existing 145-year-old waterway and part of a larger undertaking to expand trade.
Here are some acts about the new waterway:
– The Suez Canal links the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, offering the quickest shipping route between Asia and Europe and saving an estimated 15 days of journey time on average. The canal is managed by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), which is wholly owned by theEgyptian Government since the canal was nationalised in 1956.
– The new parallel waterway is 35 km long. That, in addition to 37 km of the existing canal that have been deepened and widened, brings the project total to 72 km which the government says will allow two-directional traffic.
– President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered the new passageway be completed within a year, instead of the original three-year projection. TheSuez Canal Authority says more than 43,000 people worked on digging and constructing the new canal, which will cut southbound crossing time from 18 to 11 hours.
– Traffic through the existing canal constitutes 8 percent of global shipping traffic, the Suez Canal Authority says. After the expansion the SCA expects the daily average number of vessels passing through the Canal to nearly double to 97 by 2023 from 49 currently.
– The government expects the new canal to increase revenues from about $5.3 billion a year now to $13.23 billion by 2023, although some economists dispute this figure.
– To fund the massive project, the government raised $8.5 billion from Egyptians, who bought investment bonds with quarterly dividends of 12 percent promised to all investors. The government hopes the new canal will double the country’s trade income, as well as contribute towards 1 million new jobs in the entire Suez Canal Zone development.