Egyptian president attends briefing on seaports development, clarifies approach on national projects

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Tue, 07 Sep 2021 - 02:45 GMT

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi attending a briefing in Alexandria on the ongoing work to develop the infrastructure and operation system at seaports. September 7, 2021. TV screenshot

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi attending a briefing in Alexandria on the ongoing work to develop the infrastructure and operation system at seaports. September 7, 2021. TV screenshot

CAIRO – 7 September 2021: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi attended Tuesday a briefing in Alexandria on the ongoing work to develop the infrastructure and operation system at seaports.

 

Private Sector

 

President Sisi said that the government has been eager to engage private investors in ongoing national projects in the country. Nevertheless, it may not be in the capacity of private firms to implement certain projects because of their massive size and the tight deadlines mandated by the need for such infrastructure and facilities. Hence, public entities become the ideal solution to accomplish such projects on time, the chief of state noted.

 

"We invited tenders for private investors to execute projects but we would get promises that aren't always fulfilled. Ain Sokhna Port is a case in point…Only one phase of four has got completed since its planning was finished 20-25 years ago. The government stepping in to accomplish projects of the sort gives rise to shortcuts for pumping investments into the country," the president elaborated.

 

The president added that the costs offered by private investors to implement certain projects can be extremely high. "That applies to the high-speed train. We were offered [the accomplishment of that project] by private investors. But, we figured out that the costs would be incredibly high," Sisi said.  

 

The president asserted that all the money spent on national projects, such as seaports and roads, are paid to Egyptian laborers, who work in the construction works and dredging at those sites. The cost of Ain Sokhna Port expansions and upgrade is LE25-30 billion, the president underlined showcasing the size of benefit to the Egyptian economy.

 

In a related context, President Sisi instructed the minister of transport to give residents of the buildings to be demolished in Alexandria's Max neighborhood to establish a seaport, "decent compensations."

 

Seaports

 

On his side, Minister of Transport Kamel al-Wazir stated that a contract was signed with France's CMA CGM S. A. to operate Ain Sokhna Port. He added that the ministry is close to signing a contract with China's Hitachi Transport Systems to operate Port of Alexandria's Quay 100, which has been overhauled.

 

What's more, negotiations are underway with a consortium, involving Eurogate, a German company, and another Italian one, to operate the Port of Damietta. The minister noted that Egypt currently negotiates from a good position because of the enhancements carried out in the port. For instance, Egypt wants to raise the dividends it gets for the handling of containers.   

 

"We got offers from three operators from Egypt, Germany, and China to manage stations in Ain Sokhna Port, that currently has 12 kilometers ready for leasing," Minister Wazir stated.

 

Import Standards

 

"It's no longer acceptable that importers bring in poor-quality products…Work is underway to enforce European Standards so as importers will have to get [relevant] approvals on the shipments entering Egypt," the president stressed.

 

The president explained that the pilot phase of enforcing such standards will begin in October and that it will be officially in place in March 2022. The president added that a modern smart system has been designed for importers finishing documents pertinent to quality standards.

 

President Sisi pointed out that the automation of governmental work requires LE100 billion saying that Egypt is introducing such system gradually to eliminate corruption and bureaucracy.

 

Speaking of imports, President Sisi said that the contract with the exporter will have to be submitted for approval to avoid the accumulation of goods denied entry at ports.

 

To inhibit the smuggling of drugs and any hazardous substances, containers will be selected randomly for X-ray inspection.

 

Minister of Finance Mohamed Mait stated that 27,000 exporters registered the goods on the ECE system, whose pilot phase began six months ago. Registration on the system will be mandatory in March 2022 for goods to receive approval before shipment.

 

The minister added that the one-window automated system coupled with logistics zones have been introduced in all seaports and Cairo International Airport.

 

Oil Ports

 

The president also headed to Oil Gouna lying in the Port of Alexandria. Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek al-Mulla showcased that Egypt possesses 12 oil ports on its coasts on the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Of those, six are located on the Mediterranean while the rest lie on the Suez Gulf.

 

The minister stated that Al Hamra Port was mainly used to export the resources of the Western Desert but now it is also used to import some of the needs of New Alamain and the industrial zone in the area.

 

Sidi Kreir Port on the Mediterranean also used to be just receiving brute oil from Ain Sokhna, but now, it has got facilities for handling low-sulfur diesel, the minister added.

 

Western the Port of Alexandria, there is a port for circulating diesel and fuel. Beheira's Edku Port is used for exporting liquefied gas so as it is designed to receive oil tankers. A quay at Damietta Port is allocated for the same purpose of exporting liquefied gas. That port also consists of quays for the export of petrochemicals, such as methanol. Soon, facilities necessary for importing butane gas through the Mediterranean will be introduced in Damietta Port. As such, it would be possible to import butane gas through two ports on the Mediterranean and not just one as Dekheila Port also has that function.

 

Speaking of the Red Sea ports that can receive butane gas, there are Somed Port and Sonker Ports, which are also equipped to receive and store diesel. Somed Port is designed to also handle brute oil and mazut, while Suez Port is used in circulating refined oil.

 

Wadi Firan Port in Sinai can also receive butane gas imports from ports lying on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal through a pipeline extended beneath the international waterway. That port along with those of Ras Ghaleb and Shokeir Valley are designed for brute oil circulation.

 

There are 10 companies operating at Oil Gouna in the sectors of marketing, refining, and petrochemicals. Oil Gouna consists of five quays, and a pipeline for the transportation of food oil. The renovation of Quays 1 and 2 will be over by January, while that of the other three will be completed by the end of 2022.  

 

"When Egypt achieved self-sufficiency of gas, we ceased importing mazut so now we just export it," the minister pointed out. The diesel is more imported through Red Sea ports unlike fuel, which is more imported through Mediterranean ports, and that is due to prices offered by exporters, petroleum minister clarified.

 

Monorail

 

President Sisi inspected a monorail train, whose line stretches between the New Administrative Capital and Alexandria. The monorail's pilot operation will start in October with 22 trains. It is noted that two monorail trains had arrived in the Port of Alexandria, and that two others have been shipped. Those are INNOVIA monorail 300 trains, and supplied by Bombardier Inc..

 

Given that the main theme of the day was transforming Egypt into an international trade and logistics hub, the minister of transport gave some figures on the rehabilitation of the railway sector. The minister said that Egypt had signed contracts to purchase 270 train engines. Of those, 110 ones got delivered by General Electric. Simultaneously, a plan is being implemented to overhaul 176 existing engines so as the renovation of 30 is finished.

 

As for railcars, 500 out of 1,300 Transmashholding ones got delivered. Also, half of the 1,200 existing railcars got overhauled. With regard to the human element, the training of 180 engineers – at the Military Academy - out of 550 is completed.

 

The Port of Alexandria

 

Equally, the president visited the Historic Hall at the Port of Alexandria. The hall's foundation dates back to 300 B.C. Chairman of the Port Tarek Shahin explained that Alexander the Great laid the foundation stone of creating two ports on the east and west of the city but he died before the completion so the work was continued by Ptolemy 1.

 

Later on, the world's first lighthouse dubbed "Faros Lighthouse" was built during the reign of Ptolemy 2. Its height was 120 meters, and was finished in 278 B.C. The light of "Faros" would extend over a distance of 40 kilometers guiding ships to the Port of Alexandria. The lighthouse collapsed because of earthquakes but was rebuilt by Sultan Al Ashraf Qayetbay in 1477 using some remaining stones of the original one.

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