'New Suez Canal' first of a thousand steps - Sisi

Thursday 06-08-2015 05:22 PM
'New Suez Canal' first of a thousand steps - Sisi

CAIRO, Aug 6 (Aswat Masriya) - The "New Suez Canal" is the first of a thousand steps Egyptians are required to take, said Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a ceremony inaugurating the new project.

Sisi spoke as two ships simultaneously crossed the new canal, for the first time after the president signed a document inaugurating it.

The president arrived to Ismailia earlier on Thursday afternoon donning military fatigues aboard the El-Mahrousa Yacht, the first ship to pass through the Suez Canal after its inauguration in 1869.

He later changed into a civilian suit as he attended the inauguration ceremony.

Sisi described the new canal as a "gift to humanity" granted by the people of Egypt to the world, stressing that Egyptians exerted "a lot of effort" during the past year to dig the canal.

Dubbed by Sisi's government as the "New Suez Canal", the project is made up of two aspects.

One involves building a 35 –kilometre-long canal parallel to the current Suez Canal, to minimise the amount of time ships spend crossing the canal. Additionally, the Suez Canal was made deeper and wider to admit larger ships.

The other aspect of the "New Suez Canal" is meanwhile the longer-term development of the canal region. It is due to be concluded in 2045.

The Suez Canal Authority says the deepening of the canal and drilling a parallel junction to it would double the Suez Canal revenues from $5.3 billion to $13.3 in 2023.

The authority expects around 97 ships to daily cross the canal after the expansion by 2023, while the number of ships daily crossing the canal before the project was launched was nearly 49 ships.

Analysts are meanwhile skeptical about the authority's expectations, especially amid slowing world trade and competition from an expanded Panama Canal.

Egypt did not only present the new Suez canal to the world during the past year or two, Sisi said.

"Egypt will go down in history for having faced the most dangerous terrorist  ideology," he said, vowing to be victorious in the fight against "terrorism".

"The [New] Suez Canal wasn't made in normal circumstances ... [but amid] very tough economic and security circumstances," Sisi said.

Egypt has been battling a wave of militancy since the military ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013, after mass protests against his rule. The majority of attacks target security forces.

The Islamic State- affiliated Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for the majority of attacks carried out in Sinai since mid-2013. The militant group changed its name to 'Sinai Province' last November, after pledging allegiance to Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq.

Ansar threatened to kill a Croatian hostage on Wednesday within 48 hours if Muslim women in Egyptian prisons are not released.

(writing by Rana Muhammad Taha)

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