The Suez Canal should he open to all shipping within a year, according to the Canal Chairman, Mashhur Ahmed Mashhur.
SV Reporter with Mr. Mashhur
CU Diagram of canal reconstruction
SV Interviewer asks question
A transcript of Gordon Martin's interview follows.
GORDON: "After the neglect and destruction done in six or seven years of fighting, culminating in the October War, the major task of the Suez (authority) is first of all to clear the debris of war away and specifically to clear mines. How is that task being performed, Mr. Mashhur?"
MASHHUR: "Well, in fact, the clearing of bombs and mines is a very complicated and difficult problem. The mines on the banks of the canal are not easy but the bombs and shells in the water are a very difficult job. But to detect these shells and bombs and then remove them ... we need a lot of equipment for detecting these bombs and we have called for assistance from abroad and we have received some offers."
GORDON: "Would it be a reasonable expectation that within one year from now ships will be sailing through the canal?"
MASHHUR: "I think so."
GORDON: "Has the decision been made to open the canal as soon as it's fit for navigation, or does that have yet to be decided?"
MASHHUR: "I received instructions from President Sadat to prepare and work for the re-opening of the canal."
GORDON: "As soon as you give him the green light he will come and declare the canal re-opened?"
GORDON: "Since the canal was built and even since it was closed by the 1967 war, great strides have been made in the construction of super-tankers for transporting oil. Is the canal going to be made fit to cope with those giant ships?"
MASHHUR: "In fact we started in 1966 on a project to widen and deepen the canal to take super-tankers. We will resume our work on this project as soon as we have finished opening the canal. The cross-section of the canal after this project will take super-tankers up to 270,000 tons fully loaded and 300,000 partially loaded.
Initials SC/142 SC/154
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The Suez Canal should he open to all shipping within a year, according to the Canal Chairman, Mashhur Ahmed Mashhur.
In an interview with Gordon Martin of the British Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday (26 February), Chairman Mashhur said the greatest difficulty at the moment was to clear the mines and unexploded bombs and shells that have littered the canal area in two wars and sporadic fighting since it was closed in 1967. He says foreign help will be needed throughout the re-opening operation of the canal and the clearing of shells and mines alone would take three months. It would take another six months for wrecked craft sunk in the canal to be lifted. That operation would also involve the freeing of 15 international vessels trapped in the waterway for the last seven years.
The Canal Chairman says that as soon as the clearing operation is completed, work will begin on deepening and widening the waterway for the supertankers expected to use the route in the future.