Work is under way to expand the two-way section of the Suez Canal by 10 kilometres, but widening the whole waterway is too expensive to be viable, the chairman of the authority managing the Egyptian waterway said on Tuesday.
Fourteen per cent of the dredging work has been completed to add a second lane to portions of Egypt’s vital waterway, which became blocked by the Ever Given container ship last year, holding up maritime shipping for six days.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Chairman Admiral Osama Rabie said it would be too expensive to add a second lane to all 193km of the canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.
Currently, the majority of the canal's length comprises a single traffic lane, with two bypasses that allow two ships to move in opposite directions.
Mr Rabie said that 11 million cubic metres of sediment had been removed from the canal since expansion efforts started last year.
This year, the SCA will be intensifying its efforts to ensure traffic is not impeded should a blockage occur.
Despite the Ever Given container ship running aground, the canal posted a record $6.3 billion in profit last year, an increase of nearly 13 per cent from 2020.
Mr Rabie said on Tuesday that several new dredging ships would be joining the ongoing expansion of the canal. He explained that this was being done to ensure that the plan sticks to its intended completion date of July 2023.