By Lamia Nabil
The Egyptian government announced on Sunday the creation of three new tunnels under the Suez Canal as part of the framework of the Canal Region Development Plan.
The government has signed an agreement via the National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) on Sunday with Spanish company Getinsa Paymacotas, in order to prepare technical studies and tender documents to create the new tunnels underneath the Suez Canal area.
“The three tunnels will contribute to North Sinai expansion, helping to create a vast industrial zone, and completing the coastal road extension from Rafah to Nuweiba,” said Minister of Transport Hatem Abdel Latif.
“This is a step towards the Suez Canal development,” said head of the NAT Abdel Moneim Amin. “Two tunnels will be allocated for roads and the third will be for a railway.”
The two 3km-long road tunnels and the 5km-long railway tunnel will each have a diameter of 12.20m, according to the NAT’s initial study.
The first tunnel will be located 19km south of Port Said, the second will be near Al-Salam Bridge north of Ismailia, and the third will be in Suez. “There is a joint committee which includes experts from the Armed Forces, the NAT, and the Ministry of Transport to oversee the project,” Amin explained.
Currently, there is only one tunnel under the Suez Canal located north of Suez, known as the Martyr Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel.
The project will be funded with total investments of EGP 5bn ($277m), said a Ministry of Transport statement on Sunday.
The Transport Minister said that the Spanish government will be funding the preparation of technical studies with a grant of €900,000.
“The Egyptian government is working on an ambitious project to develop Suez Canal from a regular waterway into a major economic region, and to raise its revenues to $100bn annually,” said Amin.
Preliminary studies for the project are expected to be completed after nine months, with implementation of the project taking three years.