Egyptian authorities have raised the alert level to the maximum across the country ahead of the opening of the expanded Suez Canal set for August 6th.
Security checks of local residents and naval patrols have been under way, according to Anadolu news agency, so as to rule out possible security threats to the opening ceremony.
The heightened security measures have been put in place following recent bomb planting around the country’s major waterway earlier this month and, more recently, an attack on a moored Egyptian coastguard vessel in the Mediterranean Sea near the Sinai Peninsula by the so called Islamic-state forces.
As the upgrade project nears completion, with nearly 97 per cent of dredging works finalized, the preparations are under way to start with the trial operations in the expanded lane.
The trials are set to begin this Saturday, Mohamed Sakr, the head of navigational management department at the Suez Canal Authority, told Al-Ahram newspapers, adding that different size ships will take part in the test operations.
Head of Suez Canal Authority Mohab Mamish asserted on Sunday, July 19th, that the new project is a fully integrated one fitted with navigational signs, maps, electronic navigation devices and highly-trained guides to secure ships crossing the waterway.
Mamish added that logistical and security preparations had been made for the inauguration of the New Suez Canal project.
Once the two-way highway is completed, Egypt expects that up to 20,000 ships will transit the route on a yearly basis.
The expansion project will pave the way for a transit of ships of up to 20 meters in draft, thus increasing the revenue of the canal to up to USD 17 billion a year.
World Maritime News Staff