CAIRO, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Egypt officially opened a new side channel late Wednesday at the northern entrance the Suez Canal to increase traffic and trade transiting along the canal, state-run Nile TV reported.
The new channel, of 9.5 km long, 18.5 m deep, and 250 m wide, would speed up shipping and allow ships to directly enter Port Said, according to Prime Minister Sherif Ismail.
"It is a huge project to develop Suez Canal area and create more job opportunities," Ismail added.
The new side channel is a prerequisite for developing the Suez Canal axe, the premier added.
The channel, which links the East Port Said Harbor with the northern entrance of the Suez Canal at the Mediterranean, is to provide direct access to the harbor without hindering traffic along the Suez Canal.
Earlier in the day, the first mega shipping vessel crossed the new East Port Said Canal en route to the waterway of Suez Canal.
The axe is a national project that was initiated after inauguration of the national "New Suez Canal" project, which is a newly-dug 35-km waterway alongside the original 190-km Suez Canal, plus a 37-km expansion and deepening of some parts of the original one.
"Developing the port will attract more ships to a hub at the port, as well as to attract navigation lines, increase traffic and the trade transiting at the canal," Ismail added.
The digging and dredging have been carried out in cooperation with the U.S. Great Lakes and the Belgium Dredging International companies.
For its geographic site as a gate for Europe, "the new side channel aims to open new investment opportunities in the area around the port by establishing logistical, industrial and economic zones," the prime minister said.