$8 billion expansion project to open ahead of time
Egypt has completed the Suez Canal Axis and is scheduled to inaugurate the major engineering project on 6 August.
The $8 billion scheme involved the creation of a 37-km new canal, cut through the desert, and running along part of the existing shipping channel.
It also included the expansion of a further 35-km stretch along the central Great Bitter Lake section of the Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean in northern Egypt with the Red Sea in the south.
The expansion works were finished in 11 months and were overseen by the army, on the orders of Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who stipulated that the scheme be completed within a year.
Work was carried out by six international firms whose labourers worked around the clock, digging and dredging on six separate sections of the project.
Egypt expects the project to increase the Suez Canal revenues from the current $5.3 billion to $13.2 billion by 2023. It also hopes to cater for around 100 transiting ships a day by 2023, twice what can currently be facilitated by the 145-year-old canal.
The project will also allow the two-way traffic of larger vessels and reduce navigation time from 22 hours to 11 hours along the strategic waterway. The canal runs from Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea to Port Tewfik in Suez, and is the oldest artificial waterway in the world.