Egypt has begun modernizing its Mediterranean port at Alexandria with a series of projects costing around $250 million to attract tourists and increase capacity, the transport minister said Saturday.
The projects include building a five star hotel and new passenger terminals, computerizing customs and administration procedures, developing the quays and deepening the port, Transport Minister Ibrahim Dumeiri said. The modernization should take two to three years, he was quoted by Egypt's state-run MENA news agency as saying.
Dumeiri said a cooperation agreement had been signed with the German port of Hamburg to computerize the port at Alexandria, although he did not reveal how much that contract was worth.
"There will be joint working groups to provide training in the use of electronic equipment which has become absolutely necessary for speedy customs transactions and other administrative procedures," he said.
Four state-of-the-art giant x-ray machines worth around a million dollars each would also be bought to enable cargo containers to be inspected without opening them, he added. Dumeiri said he wanted to double the amount of goods passing through the port from 54 million tons a year to 100 million tons a year.
The transport ministry has also signed a 36 million Egyptian pound ($10 million) contract with an Egyptian company to develop the existing quays and build a new one within a year, the minister said. The unnamed company's contract also requires it to increase the draught of the port from 12 to 15 meters in depth within the same time period to enable Alexandria to accommodate giant ships, Dumeiri said.
The various projects, all of which are going to private companies, will total between 800 million and one billion Egyptian pounds (between $210 and $270 million), Dumeiri said. He did not specify how much would be spent on renovating the port's buildings, and building new warehouses and the new hotel.
"We're in a race against time to restructure some of the buildings in the port which date back as far as 1883," he said, recalling Alexandria's history as one of the oldest and most significant ports of the Mediterranean.
He said the transport ministry had already started raising four of around 25 wrecked ships from the port as part of the modernization package. — (AFP, Cairo)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)