Suez Canal operating well despite protests

Updated: 2011-07-12 14:39


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CAIRO - Suez Canal in June collected $445 million in toll despite recent protests in Suez city, registering a 16 percent year-on-year increase, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said Sunday.

Suez Canal is working well despite the SCA employees' participation in strikes and demonstration activities, an SCA official told the press Sunday, emphasizing "SCA is working with the authorities to ensure the security of ships running through the canal."

Egyptians Friday launched mass protests and demonstrations in Cairo, Alexander and Suez to urge the military authorities to quickly prosecute the corrupted officials of the former regime, and speed up reforms.

Thousands of workers from SCA's affiliated companies Saturday started sit-ins and blocked the highway linking Suez and other ports nearby, to protest the court's release of policemen who had suppressed demonstrations. By now their protests have been stopped by security forces.

According to the SCA, security concerns would make ships choose other routes instead of the canal, which will seriously affect Egypt's economy.

As an important foreign exchange source for Egypt, Suez Canal generates around 3 percent of its GDP. Experts said in the past 12 months till the end of June, the canal collected $5 billion in toll, up 11 percent year-on-year.

Continued protests have taken their toll on the Egyptian economy, which has seen a downturn partly due to a significant drop in tourism income and immigrant remittances. The economy is predicted to grow by only about 1 percent in this fiscal year.