Sisi defies time, new system to link Sinai to all of Egypt


Sun, 24 Dec 2017 - 03:44 GMT

The president described the completion of the tunnels in less than one-and-a-half year, instead of the initial estimate of 12 years, as an achievement – Photo compiled by Egypt Today/Mohamed Zain

The president described the completion of the tunnels in less than one-and-a-half year, instead of the initial estimate of 12 years, as an achievement – Photo compiled by Egypt Today/Mohamed Zain

CAIRO – 24 December 2017: On Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi inaugurated a set of development projects in the East Suez Canal development zone in northern Ismailia.

The East Suez Canal Development Project, part of the mega Suez Canal Development Project, was inaugurated in 2015 with an aim to develop major industrial and residential zones in the central Suez Canal governorate of Ismailia.

The inauguration, attended by senior state officials, public figures and representatives of state institutions, witnessed Sisi giving the green light for several projects which include tunnels of Ismailia; two floating bridges on the Suez Canal, Qantara and Ismailia tunnel; the second stage of the East Suez Canal aquaculture projects and the offshore support vessel.

The two floating bridges will facilitate commercial and civilian access to Sinai and the East Suez Canal Development Zone.

New system to link Sinai with all parts of Egypt

One of the mega projects within the development project is a new system that will link Sinai to all parts of Egypt to meet all requirements of development in the peninsula.

This new system will completely eliminate the traffic congestion, which is no longer accommodated by the ferries of the Suez Canal Authority, Al-Salam Bridge and the Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel.

These tunnels are seen to solve a crisis that was neglected for years; it will allow traffic to go across the Suez Canal immediately instead of waiting for five or six days.

Moreover, the new system will contribute to decreasing prices of goods significantly; as long waiting periods leads to high prices of goods going into the country.

"What we are doing is a very strong linking between the East and West of the canal, and between Sinai and Delta, We are talking about developing and reconstructing, 60,000km, this is a great effort which could never be done in 10 or 15 years," Sisi announced.

The Armed Forces Engineering Authority contracted with four Egyptian companies for the tunneling system project; tunnels of north Ismailia were assigned to Petroject and Concord.

Petroject and Concord

Arab Contractors and Orascom were assigned to implement tunnels of south Port Said.

Orascom and Arab Contractors

The president described the completion of the tunnels in less than one-and-a-half year, instead of the initial estimate of 12 years, as an achievement.

The Egyptian leader also announced a challenge that the four tunnels will be completed by June 30, 2018.

Rationalized cost:

In order to rationalize the cost, specifications of various models of tunnels boring machines (TBMs) were compared; German firm, Herrenkncht, was selected after negotiations with the firm succeeded in decreasing the cost by 25%.


The Armed Forces signed a contract with the German firm to manufacture and supply four giant TBMs, in addition to training 40 Egyptian engineers.

Unique TBM model:

By November 2015, parts of the giant TBM machine arrived in Egypt, the assembling process was completed in March 2016. Actual excavation work started at the beginning of June 2016.

The TBM used for the project is a unique model of giant boring machines, which weighs 2440 tons, and has a length of 86 meters.


Engineering Authority sparing no effort:

Effort of the Engineering Authority continued as it cooperated with companies to establish factories and ancillary stations for the implementation of the project; this includes two Factories for manufacturing concrete rings, two power plants, two plants for mixing injection material, and cisterns (underground water tanks).

The authority managed to carry out the excavation work with full efficiency without any impact on the traffic and navigation in the Suez Canal.

The authority also extended cooperation with grand international companies in search of technical consultancies as it sought the best outcome out of the project.

CDM Smith

Work continued to the group of the tunnels North of Ismailia, where construction began by establishing two tunnels for cars under the Suez Canal, with a length of 5820m each.

Moreover, a factory for manufacturing concrete rings was established over an area of 14500m2, with a production capacity of 15 rings per day, in addition to a storage area of over 25900m2 with a capacity of 928 concrete rings.

The tunnels, South of Port Said, included two tunnels for cars with a total length of 3920m each, this included the establishment of a concrete rings factory over an area of 10,000m2, annexed to it is a storage area over 20,310m2, with a storage capacity of 700 concrete rings.

Each group of Ismailia and Port Said tunnels contain four wells for maintenance and four cross exit passages, whereby each two tunnels are connected with a number of these passages every 1000m along the tunnel, ensuring full safety for evacuation of individuals, in emergency situations.

Tunnels specifications:

○ Inner diameter: 11.4m
○ Outer diameter: 12.6m
○ Maximum height: 5.54m
○ Maximum depth form the ground level: 70m

• One tunnel in northern Ismailia connects Egypt's northwestern city of Salloum to North Sinai's Al-Awja road; it has 5,820 meters of length.

• The other tunnel, in southern Port Said connects Salloum to North Sinai's Rafah; it has 3,920 meters of length.

Floating bridges:

The floating bridge, namely Martyr Ahmed el-Mansy, connects the eastern and western shores of the Suez Canal in Zone 6 of the Ismailia governorate, achieving integration with ferries and undersea tunnels.

These facilities aim at smoothing the movement of citizens from the eastern side of the canal to its western lands as part of the infrastructure necessary to develop the eastern side of the canal and connect Sinai with the rest of Egypt, which supports development projects executed in the Suez Canal governorates.

Port Said Shipyard implemented an international design program and hired skilled Egyptian workers to execute the project.

Colonel Ahmed el-Mansy, after whom the bridge is named, was the late commander of the Sa'ka Forces (Thunderbolt Forces) and was killed in clashes between Egyptian armed forces and militants on July 7, when the army besieged groups of terrorists and foiled attacks that targeted a number of other checkpoints in the Rafah area in North Sinai.

Growing revenues:

Head of the Suez Canal Authority, Admiral Mohab Mamish, said in his speech during the inauguration that the number of vessels traversing the canal in December 2017 increased by 12.2 percent, in comparison with December 2016, with a 15.8 percent of increase in USD revenues and 11.7 percent in EGP revenues.

Mamish further announced that the authority signed six new investment contracts worth of $40 billion during the World Youth Forum that took place in November 2017 in Sharm El-Sheikh.

He also said the national economy is being "pushed forward" by the promotion of foreign investors to visit Egypt as well as the new investment law.

A Central Bank report said December that Suez Canal revenues increased slightly to $1.4 billion, compared with $1.3 billion in the first quarter of last fiscal year.

President Sisi and Admiral Mamish
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi looking over the Offshore Support Vessel - Photo Courtesy of the Presidential Office

Sinai's mega construction project:

President Sisi announced that Egypt will embark on a $5,60 billion construction project in the Sinai peninsula in the next two to three years.

One of the main issues that faced North Sinai is that it lacks basic infrastructure and job opportunities for its residences, the Egyptian government decided it is time to finally keep a firm grip over Sinai by carrying out development projects.

“We have entrusted the ministry of housing and the engineering authority with a national project of comprehensive urban planning,” President Sisi said at the ceremony; he added that the project would cost around LE100 billion.

New city in Bir al-Abd

A major urban development project in North Sinai’s Bir al-Abd city, with a cost of LE100 billion ($5.6 billion), was announced to be built within two years.

Bir al-Abed is one of the cities of North Sinai, North East Egypt, that has been repeatedly targeted by terrorist groups. The fact that Bir al-Abed has been hit over and over again by terrorists has encouraged the Government to develop the area.

The Government is directing LE 1.89 billion in investments to the North Sinai Governorate during fiscal year 2017/18, Minister of Planning, Hala al-Said, announced.

Moreover, Egyptian Federation of Investors Association (EFIA) announced earlier in December the establishment of a new holding company for development in Sinai, particularly in Bir al-Abed.

Sinai's security on top of priorities:

During the inauguration, the Egyptian leader said the Armed Forces will use "utmost force" to eradicate terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt's security forces have been battling a violent Islamist-extremist insurgency in North Sinai after militancy gained traction following the ousting of Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood figure, from the presidency in 2013.

Hundreds of security men and civilians since then were killed due to terror activities.

"Egyptians should never fear any foreign threats as long as they are united," President Sisi said during the inauguration. "We have to put an end to terrorism in Sinai. Sinai is our land, and the Armed Forces will employ absolute force to put an end to violence there."

President Sisi further reassured the country is heading in the right direction towards development and success despite terrorist plots.

Presidential directives are constantly issued to restore security and stability in Sinai; last month, president Sisi ordered the army's chief of staff to end the insurgency within three months.



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