A Belgian-US coalition has won the tender to dredge a new 9.5 km access channel in East Port Said, enabling vessels to visit the area around the clock.
The winners comprise Belgium’s Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering NV (DEME) and US Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, overcoming a rival four-company coalition comprising Emirati National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC), Dutch Boskalis for Dredging, Dutch Van Oord and Belgian Jan De Nul group.
Officials from the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) announced the deal, adding that the contract between the authority and the coalition will be signed on October 14 according to The Cairo Post.
Ahead of the announcement, Mohab Mamish, chairman of the SCA, told the Wall Street Journal that work will start in two weeks and should be completed in six to seven months.
The new channel, which is estimated to cost US$60m, will be 18.5 m deep and 250 m wide.
A floating bridge, estimated to cost EGP70m (US$8.9m), will be established in the East Port to carry loads of up to 70 tonnes, including one line for small trucks and another for cars.
The channel will open up East Port Said to 24-hour traffic whereas now, vessels have to join the Suez Canal convoy.
Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT), which is located in the area, has been calling for the dredging of the channel for several years, having pledged US$15m towards the project, of which it has already contributed half.
In July, SCCT’s CEO Klaus Holm Laursen, told CM: “The navigational access to East Port Said is a prerequisite for developing the port further; the port is a central part of Egypt’s economic policy.”
The development of an approach channel to East Port Said, where SCCT is located, will enable the terminal, operated by Maersk-subsidiary APM Terminals (APMT), to increase capacity from roughly 2,500 vessel calls per year to at least 5,000.
“For SCCT, that’s more than we will ever be able to handle,” Laursen added. “It also means that there should be room for building another terminal whether that be for bulk or containers.”