President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi launched the East Port Said harbour development project in Port Said Saturday, giving the starting signal for digging to begin on a side channel to be used in the project.
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi welcomed the president upon his arrival.
The implementation of the large sea port on the eastern side of the city is part of the overall Suez Canal Axis Development Project. The new port will include industrial, logistics, and residential zones as well as one dedicated to fish-farming.
A road tunnel will also be built under a channel to the south of the city.
During his speech, Al-Sisi announced the project’s features, along with the planned conclusion date. The Armed Forces Engineering Authority will lay out the various stages of implementation, along with details of development projects in the province.
Al-Sisi, during the celebration, interrupted General Kamel Al-Wazir, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Engineering Authority and the general supervisor of the new Suez Canal project, during his statements about the East Port Said development projects, when he said the project would end in three years. Al-Sisi said the project could be completed in two years instead.
Al-Sisi added that the government is working hard for future generations. He further confirmed that the project will include “the establishment of a coastal city”.
The president said there is an urgent plan to tackle drainage and irrigation problems within two years: “No one can ever prevent us from building our country,” he said.
“We spoke two years ago about the world’s sufferings due to not confronting terrorism,” he said. “But the whole world realised this recently and it will face the problem militarily, economically, and religiously. There is no way to eliminate terrorism unless it is with confrontation and we will fight this phenomenon that is hostile to humanity and religion.”
Al-Sisi confirmed that the government has succeeded in accomplishing energy and gas projects in Egypt. “We do not have any problems in these projects at all,” he said.
“I have some doubts and concerns about the businessmen, why are you sceptical about our intentions? I assure you this is not accurate. Work and build; why are you afraid?” Al-Sisi continued.
“I salute all of you. I appreciate and thank all those who contributed in any accomplishment, and we will meet in other projects. We must challenge ourselves before challenging the world.”
The new channel dredging will cost $36 million, of which $7.5 million will be financed by the Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT), Memish said. SCCT is 55 percent owned by APM Terminals, part of Maersk Group.
“We are building the side channel which will allow the ships to enter from open waters directly into East Port Said,” said Memish at a news conference in Ismailiya.
Currently vessels that come through East Port Said have to be coordinated with the Suez Canal convoy.
“There was a problem with the ships that enter East Port Said which have to wait between seven to 10 hours to enter the port,” Memish said, adding that he expects the new channel to increase traffic at the port by 2020 to reach 12 million containers.
The new channel will be 9.5 kilometers long, 17 metres deep, and 250 meters wide and the total cost of the project will be $60 million, according to a statement from the SCCT.
In August Egypt launched an $8 billion Canal extension project which it expects to bring in $13.23 billion in annual revenue by 2023 from just over $5 billion in 2014.