APM Terminals believes that its Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT) subsidiary will be in a much better position to handle import and export traffic, as well as transshipment traffic, as a result of some significant infrastructure investments being made as part of the Government’s Egypt Vision 2030 project.
On May 5th, the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, inaugurated the Ismailia tunnel, which will ease the flow of traffic and cargo to and from the Sinai Peninsula, thereby significantly improving connectivity between SCCT and key industrial zones in Greater Cairo. A second tunnel connecting nearby Port Said is scheduled to open this summer.
The Ismailia tunnel, which runs under the Suez Canal, is the largest of its kind and has the capacity to handle 2000 vehicles per hour in each direction. The entrances to the tunnel, in both directions, are equipped with 10 scanners with the capacity for scanning up to 250 vehicles per hour. Six of these 10 lanes will be completely dedicated to trucks and trailers.
The tunnel is expected to quickly ramp up to full operational mode. This will significantly improve truck journey times between Greater Cairo and SCCT, currently taking between two and three days, and reduce cost for the end customer.
“It is the first time we have seen this quality of roads and tunnels in this part of the world. Together with improved security around the port it is truly an achievement of the highest international standard for Egypt,” says SCCT’s Chief Executive, Lars Vang Christensen. “This new development will make SCCT the primary gateway for cargo in and out of Egypt and is one of the final pieces of the jigsaw for ensuring we become the primary gateway to the region.”
Around 95% of SCCT’s traffic is currently made up of transhipment volumes, with the terminal acting as a hub for ships moving from South East Asia to the Mediterranean and Europe, as well as serving feeder lines in the Mediterranean and the Egyptian market. Christensen is currently working closely with the Egyptian government to achieve further incentives designed to restore the terminal’s transhipment competitiveness in the region and attract higher volumes.
Currently, the terminal has an annual capacity of 5.4 million teu. To accommodate anticipated higher volumes, SCCT is planning to invest in taller cranes and equipment to service larger containerships. In the future the terminal also has the potential to expand the length of its quay by an additional 450m.
Christensen believes that the combination of the port’s facilities, location, the new tunnels and highway infrastructure, and a potential further reduction in port tariffs, could result in rapid business development within Egypt. He says he is “hopeful” that the country’s Vision 2030 initiative will also deliver the essential business framework that will also be essential to achieve this and be truly competitive in the region.