Explainer: Egypt’s river transport development plan

Yomna Marghany , Wednesday 16 Aug 2023

Egypt has drawn up a plan to modernize its river transport network in ordert to reduce road congestion, lower fuel consumption by 64 percent, and decrease accidents by using waterways to transport passengers and goods.

File Photo A Nile Cruise boat sails along the Nile River, a day after a hot air balloon crash left 19 foreigners dead, in Luxor. Reuters


The strategy entails renovating waterway routes, adopting new technologies, and revising regulations. This will develop river shipping into a more affordable and environmentally-friendly option, the cabinet said on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Transportation issued the plan in March to ensure safe passage for vessels and encourage private investment in river ports and docks.

The plan also aims to streamline safety procedures and establish training and licensing requirements within the river transport system.

In the works

Egypt has unveiled a comprehensive plan to enhance its river transportation infrastructure to meet international standards. 

  • As part of the plan, 51 floating bridges will be built, replacing 212 manual boats, and modernizing 442 boats to a standardized model.
  • Additionally, 408 river docks will be upgraded to modern uniform standards, while 384 docks will be replaced with floating bridges.
  • To improve passenger transportation, 26 river buses will be upgraded, with 17 in greater Cairo and nine in other governorates, funded by operational revenues.
  • The feasibility of water buses, which allow quick transportation without docking requirements, is also being studied.
  • The navigable channels will undergo improvements to remove bottlenecks along three key routes: 953km from Cairo to Aswan, 220km from Cairo to Alexandria via lakes, and 240km from Cairo to Damietta.
  • Efforts are underway to activate a single window system to streamline operations and enhance efficiency. Additionally, electronic maps of navigable channels will be developed to provide accurate and updated information.
  • The plan involves the construction of new river ports in Qena, Sohag, and Assiut governorates, further expanding the river transportation network and improving accessibility in these locations.
Completed works

Several developments have taken place to improve the efficiency and safety of river transportation in Egypt:

  • Navigation channels and Lake Nasser have been equipped with navigation aids, including floating beacons and fixed towers, to enhance navigation and ensure safer journeys. Regular maintenance of these aids is also being carried out.
  • The operation and maintenance of the 10 locks on the navigation channels have been successfully accomplished, allowing for smoother passage and efficient waterway management.
  • A control centre has been established in Cairo to monitor river traffic and provide assistance in case of emergencies, ensuring timely response and enhanced safety measures.
  • Automation efforts have been implemented in various departments of the General Authority for River Transport, streamlining operations and improving efficiency.
  • The electronic archiving of all departments within the authority has been completed for security purposes, ensuring the preservation and accessibility of important records.
  • Coordination has been established with the Ministry of Transport's Transport Information Technology Company to automate navigation licences through the single window system. The automation process is expected to be completed by the end of 2023, simplifying procedures and enhancing efficiency.
  • To encourage private sector investment in river transport infrastructure and fleet building, regulations have been issued to simplify licensing procedures, provide duty exemptions, and allocate priority cargo.
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