File photo: Mohab Memish, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority on the left with the Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, right, waves during a visit to the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt (Photo: AP)
Egypt plans to complete a side channel in East Port Said, near the Suez Canal, that would speed up shipping and allow ships direct entry into the port by the end of June 2016, Mohab Memish, head of the Suez Canal Authority, said Wednesday.
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. The SCCT is 55 percent owned by APM Terminals, part of Maersk Group.
"We are building the side channel that 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 kilometres long, 17 metres deep, and 250 metres 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 Suez Canal extension project that it expects to bring in $13.23 billion in annual revenue by 2023 from just over $5 billion in 2014.