Protesters storm conference on Egypt's Suez Canal Corridor project

Ahram Online, Thursday 23 May 2013

Workers protesting Muslim Brotherhood and Suez Canal Corridor (SCC) development project storm SCC conference in Egypt's Port Said, forcing attendees to leave event early

Angry workers at the Suez Canal Authority in Port Said on Thursday stormed a conference devoted to Egypt's planned Suez Canal Corridor (SCC) project to protest against the Muslim Brotherhood and the project's terms.

Attendees were eventually forced to leave the event due to the commotion.

Protesters – many holding their shoes aloft in a sign of derision – chanted against the Brotherhood and the planned SCC project, according to one eyewitness.

"The terms of the draft legislation that will govern the project don't guarantee any popular or legislative overview and leave everything in the hands of 15 board members appointed by the president," said protester Ahmed Mohsen.

Critics of the proposed legislation regulating the project say it will remove the Suez Canal from Egyptian sovereignty and grant investors substantial facilities without offering any returns to Egyptian workers or the Egyptian economy.

The SCC project, which will be operated through public-private partnerships, aims to develop Egypt's three canal governorates – Suez, Ismailia and Port Said – by 2017. The project represents a major component of President Mohamed Morsi's 'renaissance' electoral programme.

The initiative will feature a number of large-scale projects, including a 'Technology Valley' in Ismailia – which will host several technology projects – along with a new tunnel linking the Suez Canal's west bank to the central Sinai Peninsula.

The initiative also includes plans to create a major Mediterranean seaport in East Port Said and an industrial zone west of the Gulf of Suez.

According to the Egyptian cabinet's official Facebook page, the SCC initiative is expected to attract investment to Egypt worth some $100 billion and generate roughly one million employment opportunities for local residents.

"We aren't against the development of the Suez Canal, but we object to the proposed law," Seoud Omar, a labour union activist at the Suez Canal Authority, told Ahram Online.

"There is a lot of ambiguity about the project, which gives unlimited powers to the executive authorities," he added.

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