By Mohamed Darwish
The ministries of housing, industry, investment and transport have begun preparing a plan to develop the Suez Canal Axis.
The ministers of the three bodies held a meeting at the headquarters of the Housing Ministry on Sunday, which was attended by experts in different fields.
The meeting aimed to reach an agreement on an action plan for developing the Suez Canal Axis and transferring it into an international logistics hub as part of a scheme to develop the Suez Canal region in general.
Minister of Housing Tarek Wafik said the development of the Suez Canal Axis is one of the most important projects which the government is currently considering.
Wafik expected that the project will be criticised by several parties due to international economic conflict, arguing that the project will be a battle resembling the nationalisation of the Suez Canal during the era of former president Gamal Abdul Nasser.
A task force of the concerned ministries has been formed and will officially file a memorandum with the prime minister to get approval to form a ministerial panel for the project, Wafik said, adding that the committee will be tasked with making quick contacts with all the concerned parties to start implementing the different development projects.
He said work on the project will start through three main development centres: the eastern Port Said area; Ismailia and Al-Amal district along with Technology Valley and New Ismailia; and northwest Suez Gulf along with the port and airport of Ain Al-Sokhna.
Minister of Transport Rashad El-Meteini said the meeting represents a road map to carrying out Suez Canal Axis development projects.
Minister of Investment Osama Saleh said the project will be a true development axis for Egypt, and that his ministry will take responsibility for promoting the project and helping get necessary funding.
Minister of Industry Hatem Saleh said his ministry intends to establish industrial complexes and pivotal ports to boost trade and contribute to development.
First deputy of the New Urban Communities Authority Kamal Hussein told the Daily News Egypt his authority is responsible for two development axes out of the three axes that were discussed during the meeting: the development of eastern Port Said; and the northeastern Suez Gulf.
The authority will be responsible for establishing a mega city in eastern Port Said and the Suez Gulf for urban settlement in conjunction with the projects that will be established on the land of the industrial development.
Hussein said detailed schemes for the distribution of the real estate and industrial projects in these areas are being drawn up to prepare for determining the investment projects that will be implemented by the authority.
Head of the General Organisation for Physical Planning (GOPP) Dr Mostafa Madbouli reviewed a number of projects across various fields that were agreed upon in principle to develop the Suez Canal axis up to 2027.
Projects in the agriculture, land reclamation and aquaculture sectors include the reclamation of 77,000 acres in eastern Suez Canal, the completion of the reclamation and cultivation of lands and the new expansion of aquaculture of high value products in the governorates of Suez and Port Said.
Regarding industry and food industries projects, they include implementation of the first phase of the Technology Valley project on an area of 3500 acres out of 16,500 acres, manufacturing and packaging fish in Qantara Sharq and eastern Port Said, centre of manufacturing and maintaining ships and containers in Port Said, Northeastern Suez Gulf and a major industrial zone in Shark El Tafreaa.
The proposed projects in the Suez Canal axis include the establishment of a technology university in the Technology Valley in Ismailia, a scientific city in cooperation with international universities and a medical city in eastern Port Said city, Madbouli said.
Madbouli proposed the establishment of trade and logistics services zones east of the Suez Canal and east of Ismailia, the development of Port Said port, “expansion of the container terminal”, establishment of a free zone east of Suez Canal, a zone for manufacturing and maintaining containers and ships, a city for international trade research and navigation services and the development of the industrial zone of Al Qantara Shark.
He said the proposed projects for development in the tourism and environment sectors include a distinguished tourist centre and entertainment and sports zones on the Mediterranean Sea east of Port Said, Bedouin centres in Raas Al-Barqa, Raas Al-Shaitan and in Al-Qulayaa in Taba Centre in South Sinai “a hotel hosting 50 rooms, Bedouin camps and cafeterias.”
In the field of new and renewable energy, Madbouli said that it is proposed to establish two power stations working with solar energy and the combined cycle through gas and steam turbines in northeastern Suez Gulf, a wind energy station and a 500 megawatt power station working with geothermal energy on the Suez Gulf.
The housing minister announced that there is a vision for the proposed roles of the Suez Canal region governorates. The Sharqaya governorate will be a source for food and labour; Port Said will be an international logistics hub; Ismailia will be a centre for technological industries, the Suez Canal will be a centre for industries and mining, the North Sinai will be a hub for the local industries and tourism and agriculture on a nationwide scale and South Sinai will cater for “sun and sea” and religious international tourism plus petroleum and mining, he added.