Egypt is planning to expand the Suez Canal by opening up another 10 kilometers to two-way traffic and widening and deepening another 30 kilometers, according to the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority.

Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, Osama Rabie, stated at the first news conference on the expansion, which began in June, that widening the entire length of the waterway connecting the Red Sea and the Mediterranean would be too costly.

The two-way part, however, would be extended from 75 kilometers to 85 kilometers (53 miles), he said.

Last year, one of the world’s largest cargo ships were trapped for approximately a week in the southern part of the 190-kilometer canal, disrupting global maritime operations.

Rabie was speaking from a dredger north of Suez, around two kilometers from the spot where the Ever Given container ship became stranded last March. After the crisis, the expansion, which was supposed to begin in January, was accelerated, he added.

The project’s main goal is to improve traffic safety. Rabie estimates that it will take roughly 11 hours to travel through the canal once it is completed.

The second phase of the project entails excavating 40 meters from the canal’s eastern side to enlarge the 30-kilometer section continuing south to the mouth. This section, where the Ever Given was grounded, will be six feet deeper.

“This is a difficult portion of the canal,” he said, adding that “the deepening and widening will smooth out the bends in the canal at that point,” and reduce the impact of southerly winds.

According to him, the project will cost 3 billion Egyptian pounds ($191 million) and will be finished and inaugurated by the end of June 2023.

Separately on Tuesday, Rabie told CNBC Arabia that the authority is considering listing shares of some of its companies on Egypt’s stock exchange and that it plans to sell 20 percent holdings in two or three of them, notably Canal Rope, Canal Harbor, and Great Projects.

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