Egypt signs with six companies for Suez Canal work
Project will require up to 36 dredgers to remove 250mn m3 of material
National Marine Dredging Company is one of six international firms signed up by Egypt to carry out work on the new Suez Canal.
Dredging work will also be undertaken by Royal Boskalis Westminster and Van Oord, both based in the Netherlands; Jan de Nul Group and Deme Group, both of Belgium; and US-based Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company.
Lieutenant General Mohab Memish, head of the Suez Canal Authority, announced the consortium at a news conference in Cairo alongside Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb.
Egypt hopes the new canal will more than double revenues from the waterway by 2023 to $13.5bn from $5bn. It also plans to develop 76,000km2 (29,000 sq miles) in the area into an international industrial and logistics hub to attract more ships and generate income.
Memish did not provide financial details of the contracts but said the companies would begin working this week. The new canal is scheduled to be completed by August 2015, an ambitious target set by Sisi.
"In order to complete this work within one year it was necessary to make use of huge dredging machines, international dredging machines, because the amount of wet dredging is very large," said Memish.
Engineers from the army began digging in the area in August when the project was unveiled. Memish said they would conduct dredging in one of the new canal's six work zones, with the international companies operating in the remaining areas.
He said the total project would require up to 36 dredgers to remove about 250mn m3 worth of material.
The new canal is to be built alongside the existing 145-year-old waterway which is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia. Income from the existing canal provides a vital source of hard currency for a country that has suffered a slump in tourism and foreign investment since the 2011 uprising.
Diplomats at the event included Western ambassadors to Egypt and UAE minister of state Sultan Ahmed al Jaber, the UAE's point man on Egyptian projects.
Egypt's central bank governor said last month the state had reached the $8.5 billion funding goal for the project, which it has financed through the issue of investment certificates in the domestic market.