In a bid to attract more ships to the Suez Canal, Egyptian authorities have approved a five-year project to build a side navigation route that will shorten the canal's crossing time by four hours, head of Suez Canal's media, Hassan Rifaat, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.
Work on the new 22-kilometer route will start by the beginning of next year and will cost 1.5 billion Egyptian pounds ($416 million), Rifaat said.
Reducing the crossing time will allow more ships to pass through the canal, he added.
According to the agency, an average of 40 ships pass through the canal daily.
The route, which will pass between the Suez Canal towns of Defreswar and Ismailia, is part of a larger project to expand the canal's depth and width. Suez Canal authorities plan on increasing the canal's depth from 60 to 72 feet by the year 2010, the AP said.
The canal, which opened in 1869, is one of Egypt's main sources of foreign currency. Revenue from the Suez Canal reached $1.76 billion in 1998, according to the agency - Albawaba.com
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