Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi witnessed the inauguration of a number of national projects for the development of the Sinai Peninsula, including the key Ahmed Hamdi II Tunnel which connects Africa to Asia, in an event in Suez on Tuesday.
The event was attended by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and several state ministers, including Defence Minister Mohamed Zaki along with the head of the Suez Canal Authority, Osama Rabie.
During the event, El-Sisi paid tribute to the former defence minister Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawy — who passed away earlier today at the age of 85.
Tantawy "led the country wisely in the most difficult circumstances and played a key role in protecting Egypt," the president stressed.
The president also announced at the event that Egypt has declared a state of official mourning for the death of Tantawy.
“We had a choice to postpone the openings today, but [Tantawy] was a serious man who loved to work, and that is why these openings were not postponed,” El-Sisi said.
The inaugurated projects in the peninsula include the St. Catherine Hospital, Rowaysat Medical Centre, and other healthcare facilities.
A still photo of the 'Ahmed Hamdi II Tunnel' that was inaugurated on Tuesday to connect Sinia to Egypt's mainland
The Ahmed Hamdi II Tunnel is the fifth tunnel built by Egypt in the last two years to connect Sinai to the mainland and Africa to Asia.
In 2019, El-Sisi inaugurated four tunnels linking Sinai to the mainland — two in Ismailiya and two in Port Said.
The Ahmed Hamdi II Tunnel links the Nile Delta and the Sinai Peninsula with the aim of facilitating the movement of citizens and goods to and from the west of the canal.
The new tunnel is expected to double investments and job opportunities in Sinai, the president said.
The first Ahmed Hamdi tunnel was built in 1981.
El-Sisi stated during the event that the Bahr Al-Baqar wastewater triple treatment plant will also be inaugurated within the coming few days to supply the Sinai Peninsula with around 5.6 million cubic metres of water on a daily basis.
This station, El-Sisi said, will aid in cultivating 500,000 feddans of land.
New road projects
Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony also witnessed the opening of 35 new roads in Sinai, with head of the Armed Forces’ Engineering Authority Major General Ihab El-Far saying another 16 roads are under construction within the ‘Sinai Development Project’.
The road network will have a significant impact on Sinai and the rest of Egypt, the president said.
By the end of this year, the country will inaugurate three roads — spanning more than 1,000 kilometres — that will cut through agricultural land in Farafra, Toshka, and Sharq Al-Owainat, El-Sisi added.
The volume of work that has already been achieved in constructing roads is unprecedented, El-Sisi said, noting that there is still more work to be done.
The president revealed that the state will soon have over 12,000 kilometres of newly-constructed roads, including the 7,000 kilometres that the state has already constructed and developed since 2014.
In 2014, El-Sisi launched the ‘National Road Project’ with the goal of developing and extending Egypt’s 23,500-kilometre-road network.
When the project was launched, Egypt ranked 118 in terms of the quality of its road infrastructure in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competition Report. By 2019, it had climbed to 28th place.
“Some may think that we exaggerate in constructing new roads and bridges [nationwide]. No, we are not. Freedom of movement, whether for people or goods, must be easy in the urban areas of Egypt,” El-Sisi said.
“Our interest in [constructing new roads stems from our aim to] lay real foundations for development across Egypt’s soil,” he explained.