Egyptian river cargo surged 80 per cent last year with the quantity of goods transported on the Nile and its subsidiaries climbing to 9 million tonnes from 5 million in 2009, Egypt's official statistics body said on Sunday.
According to data released by the Centre Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the majority of cargo - 6.5 million tonnes - was transported by the unregulated private sector.
1.7 million tonnes were attributed to the government and public sector enterprises while just 0.9 million were from recognised private enterprises.
Heavier cargo mainly accounted for the leap, which show a smaller 19.6 per cent rise in the number of actual journeys. A total of 956 units were transported on Egypt's rivers in 2010, up from 799 in 2009.
Automobiles made up the overwhelming majority of transported products at 6.6 million tonnes, 93 per cent of the total 7.1 million of industrial goods.
Commodities from mines and quarries made up 1.4 million tonnes, down 44 per cent on 2009. Limestone was the main transported commodity, making up 66.2 per cent of the sector.
Transport of agricultural produce climbed by 88.2 per cent to 303,000 tonnes, with 187,000 of this figure made up by wheat, a vital Egyptian produce and import.
Over the last few years, several Egyptian companies have suggested the Nile makes a viable alternative to the country's heavy reliance on road transport for industrial and agricultural products.
In late June, Egyptian private equity firm Citadel Capital signed a $21 million investment deal with two European investment banks to develop the logistics for transporting goods the length of the Nile.
Citadel and bank spokesmen described the improvement of Egypt's waterway facilities as key to weaning the country from what it called its costly, dangerous and environmentally damaging reliance on road transport.