A cargo ship crossing the New Suez Canal (Photo: Reuters)
Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Mohab Mamish said this week that the Suez Canal had achieved record revenues of $15.8 billion over the last three years in the period between August 2015 when the New Suez Canal was inaugurated and July 2018.
He made the remarks during an occasion marking the third anniversary of the New Suez Canal’s inauguration, adding that 52,199 ships had transited the canal during the period, representing a load of around three billion tons.
He said that the 2017-2018 fiscal year had seen the highest annual revenues in the history of the canal, reaching $5.6 billion, a $600 million increase over the previous year.
Flexible marketing policies and incentives granted to navigation lines, accompanied by the building of bridges and tunnels in the Canal Zone, had contributed to the increased revenues and the record number of vessels crossing the waterway, he added.
The New Suez Canal had achieved “national targets,” he said, describing it as a unique national project in which all Egyptians had participated through their efforts and financial contributions.
He said it was a “gift to humanity” that had contributed to transporting food, fuel, medications and other commodities in a faster way.
The Suez Canal is now better able to deal with advances in shipping technology and the growth in global trade, he said, and it had shortened the waiting times for ships wanting to cross the canal from 22 hours to 11. This had lowered transit costs by half, he said.
The building of the New Suez Canal had been imperative to receive bigger ships and to compete with rival routes, Mamish said.
Over the past three years, the canal had received the biggest and most advanced ships in the world after a series of measures to improve its performance had been taken, he added.
The cost of building the new canal had been some $20.48 billion, Mamish said, and the Suez Canal was the fastest-growing sector in the economy in 2017/2018, achieving a growth rate in revenues of 107 per cent.
In August 2015, Egypt celebrated the landmark inauguration of the New Suez Canal that saw the digging of a new 72-km long and 24-metre deep parallel canal in the middle section of the existing 145-year-old Suez Canal.
The digging of the canal was funded by the Egyptian people through investment certificates at an interest rate of 12 per cent. The funds were raised in a record six days in September 2014.
Besides shortening transit times, the new canal also provides two-way traffic, allowing a doubling of the number of vessels crossing the canal from 49 to 97 per day.
It is expected to increase the canal’s revenues from the current $5 billion annually to $13 billion by 2023.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 9 August 2018 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Breaking records on the canal