Egypt's Suez Canal underwater tunnels to operate around the clock

The decision will facilitate development projects in Sinai and the Suez Canal Axis area

A container vessel passes through the Suez canal, which has generated 5 per cent more revenue for the Egyptian government since it was expanded to add a second lane five years ago. The UAE's National Marine Dredging Company worked on the upgrade. Courtesy NMDC
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Egypt will operate the underwater tunnels beneath its Suez Canal around the clock starting on Sunday to facilitate the movement of people and to serve development projects in the area.

The tunnels will operate 24-hours a day for the first time since they were opened, Egyptian media reported, citing the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, Osama Rabie. These are the Tahyia Misr tunnels in Ismailiya and the July 3 tunnels in Port Said.

The only exceptions will be partial closures on Saturdays and Sundays when the tunnels will be shut for six hours between 2am and 8am to allow for maintenance and development work.

Previously, the underwater tunnels were only open from 9am to 5pm, though timings recently varied due to restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The decision came after presidential directives to link Sinai with the New Valley, to ease the movement of people between the two sides of the canal and serve development projects in the area.

On August 6, Egypt marked the fifth anniversary of the inauguration of the New Suez Canal, which was dug in parallel to the original in order to expand the international waterway.

Revenue from the Suez Canal has increased by 4.7 per cent since the inauguration of the expansion project five years ago, compared with the previous five years, Reuters reported, citing Mr Rabie on August 6.

Canal revenue rose to $27.2 billion (Dh99.8bn) during the last five years, from $25.9bn in the period between 2010 to 2015, Mr Rabie said.

The canal is the quickest shipping route between Europe and Asia and one of the Egyptian government’s key sources of foreign currency.