Egypt celebrates 150th anniversary of opening Suez Canal to int’l navigation


ISMAILIA, Egypt, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) — Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority (SCA) celebrated on Sunday the 150th anniversary of the Suez Canal’s opening to international navigation.

Speaking at the celebration that was held at the SCA premises in Ismailia province, Chairman of the SCA Osama Rabie expressed pride of the Suez Canal’s vital role since its inauguration in 1869 until this day in serving world trade and developing the shipping industry.

“The Suez Canal has always been given the complete focus of Egyptian government throughout its history through adopting a series of developmental projects in the waterway, and the highlight of those is the New Suez Canal project,” he said.

The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. It was opened for navigation in November 1869 after 10 years of construction.

The Suez Canal is one of the most important waterways in the world since it allows ships to travel between Europe and South Asia without navigating around Africa, thereby reducing the sea voyage distance between Europe and India by about 7,000 km.

In August of 2015, Egypt opened a new 35-km waterway alongside the original 190 km Suez Canal, plus a 37-km expansion and deepening of some parts of the existing one.

The new artificial waterway, which is part of a larger project to expand Suez port and shipping facilities and build large industrial zones, is designed to raise Egypt’s international profile, and build the nation as a major trade hub.

Meanwhile, Rabie stressed that the new project succeeded in maintaining the canal’s global ranking and improved the navigational services provided to the transiting vessels.

“It has also helped the SCA cope with the requirements of development in the shipping sector and be up for competition with other maritime routes,” he noted.

The SCA chairman said that 1.3 million vessels have transited the Suez Canal since its inauguration, with 28.6 billion tons of cargo on-board, and generating revenues amounting to 135.9 billion U.S. dollars.

“The statistics of the financial year 2018/2019 showed the transit of approximately 19,000 vessels holding 1.2 billion tons of cargo on-board, and revenues of 6 billion U.S. dollars,” he revealed.

Rabie stressed that the SCA is a fully-fledged institution of an economic and developmental nature and a leading social role in the Canal region.

He added that the development scheme extends to upgrading and developing the SCA fleet of dredgers, with two new dredgers are being built and shall join service by 2020.

Rabie also highlighted the SCA’s interest in developing its work methods through digitalization of all operations with focus on the administrative reform, boosting performance, and empowering the youth.