Egypt has finally agreed to widen and deepen a channel giving APMT’s Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT) direct access to the shipping canal’s northern end, after balking at the cost for a number of years.
Last weekend, as the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) held a successful two-way traffic trial in the main canal, the authority’s head Muhab Mamish announced that the government would fund its share of creating a 9.5 kilometre channel from the container terminal to enter the Suez Canal at a point some 20 kilometres south of its northern entrance, allowing two-way traffic to and from the terminal.
The access channel will be dredged by the consortium of seven companies that is currently completing expansion of the main canal, permitting a doubling of daily traffic from a current 49 to an estimated 97 ships. This ‘Alliance of Challenge’ comprises the SCA’s dredge fleet, the Emirati National Marine Dredging Company, Boskalis, Van Oord, Jan De Nul, DEME and the US Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company.
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At the moment, vessels leaving SCCT have to wait for several hours before being allowed to enter the canal; once the access channel is completed vessels will no longer have to wait, SCA economic adviser Abd-Al-Tawwab Hajjaj told the Cairo Post.
Mamish said the project had been revived at the instigation of Egyptian president Abd-al-Fatah al-Sisi. In 2007, SCCT had agreed the digging of the access channel by 2011 with the then minister of transport. However, the project was shelved, partly due to disagreements over the government’s share of the project’s cost and partly because of the social upheavals that followed the Arab spring, which have seen the overthrow of two Egyptian presidents in the past four years.