Egypt announces plans for new channel of Suez Canal

By Dustin M Braden - 05 Aug '14 10:22AM
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The Egyptian government has announced plans to build a second channel in the Suez Canal alongside the existing one.

Reuters reports the canal currently brings in about $5 billion in revenue annually for the Egyptian economy. The canal was first built 145 years ago. The new channel is part of a broader effort that will see the expansion of Suez's port and logistics facilities.

The new canal channel will be 44.74 miles in length. The head of the Suez Canal Authority Mohab Mamish said the channel's construction will be completed in five years at a cost of $4 billion. He also said the government hopes the project will be completed in three years, rather than five.

The original canal took ten years to build and required 20,000 more workers every 10 months because of the brutal conditions and inherent danger of the work at the time.

The Egyptian military will be responsible for the construction, according to Reuters, citing remarks by the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Up to 20 different firms may be involved in the project.

The timing of the decision to build the canal is interesting, as many say the Sinai Peninsula through which it must travel is generally a lawless redoubt of Islamist fighters opposed to the military regime that took power after the overthrow of the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi.

The Egyptian military and police are currently waging a bloody struggle against these Islamist elements that has claimed hundreds of lives. One purpose of the canal may be to create jobs for Egyptian youths, who have an unemployment rate of around 70 percent, according to Daily News Egypt. The lack of economic opportunity combined with the government's illegitimacy in the eyes of the population is the primary factor in the ongoing violence. 

The ostensible purpose of the canal is to cut waiting times for ships by allowing them to pass each other. The current 101-mile channel may also be widened as a part of the new canal construction. 

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