Egypt has started the construction of a new Suez Canal, with the aim of speeding up traffic and boosting its economy.
The new canal will run parallel to the original canal, built in 1869, and connect the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The project is estimated to cost around $4bn and expected to create nearly one million jobs.
While the construction is likely to take three years to complete, Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was quoted as saying: “No matter what it takes, this project must be finished in a year. That is what Egyptians expect.”
The new 72km-long Suez Canal Axis, which will expand the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia, is among several projects designed to bring up the Egyptian economy.
The project will involve 37km of dry digging and expansion, and deepening of the existing canal by 35km. This will help vessels to increase their movement speed.
Under the direct supervision of the country’s armed forces, 17 private Egyptian companies will construct the canal. Authorities of the Suez Canal have said that the new canal will boost annual revenues to $13.5bn by 2023.
The existing Suez Canal, which is one of the world’s most heavily used shipping lanes, took ten years to build. In 2013, the waterway was used by nearly 16,600 ships.
Image: An aerial port bow view of the aircraft carrier USS America (CV 66) during its transit through the Suez Canal. Photo: courtesy of W. M. WELCH.