Last week saw the inauguration of major infrastructure projects in Port Said and North Sinai, including the 3 July tunnels. The two tunnels pass beneath the Suez Canal, linking Port Said with the Sinai Peninsula. Construction began in 2015 under the supervision of the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces and involved a number of local companies.
According to Arab Contractors, one of the companies involved in the tunnel project, “the tunnels will facilitate the movement of individuals and goods to and from Sinai and boost development on the peninsula and around the canal area.”
“The tunnels have been designed using the highest security standards and allow users to traverse the canal in less than six minutes,” project manager Ahmed Said said during the inauguration.
Each 4km tunnel has a capacity of 2,000 vehicles an hour. The tunnels have two intersecting corridors and ladders to the surface every 250 metres. They have been equipped with sensors linked to a control room where temperatures and the paths of vehicles using the tunnels can be monitored.
The 3 July tunnels are the third subterranean connection between the mainland and Sinai, joining the tunnel inaugurated in Ismailia seven months ago and the long established Ahmed Hamdi tunnel close to Suez. A fourth, single direction link north of the Ahmed Hamdi tunnel, is also being constructed.
The projects fall within the Sinai Peninsula Development Plan which is set to be completed in 2022 at a cost of LE275 billion.
After inaugurating the 3 July tunnels President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi opened the 30 June Axis via video conference. The 95km dual freeway has been built at a cost of LE8.5 billion. It links South Port Said to the Cairo-Ismailia desert road, via the International Coastal Road from Port Said to Damietta. The new axis will cut journey times between Cairo and Port Said from three hours to 75 minutes.
Housing Minister Assem Al-Gazzar said the shortened journey times between the canal cities and Cairo will boost internal trade.
An estimated 75,000 workers were employed to build the 30 June Axis.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 5 December, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.