By: Nada Adel Sobhi
Despite the current economic situation, the Egyptian government has been focusing the larger portion of its plans to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country. One industry that has been benefiting from the inflow of FDI is the real estate, especially in terms of projects in new non-urban areas.
To secure investments in new areas that far from main cities a nation-wide infrastructure scheme, dubbed the National Roads Project (NRP), was launched in August of 2014.
The project covers an array of new roads and highways, alongside plans for the development of several old ones with the aim to connect governorates and reduce traffic bottlenecks and accidents.
The new road network will reportedly make up some 20% of the total length of all roads in Egypt and will be completed within a two-year period.
The two-phase mega project aims to enhance the efficiency of existing roads as well as build new ones that will pave the way for investment, improve infrastructure, connect governorates and raise national income.
The plan entails the construction of 39 new roadways with a total length of 4,400 kilometers and with investments estimated at EGP 36 billion.
In addition to the NRP, other roads are planned to be paved as well, while others are currently under construction, across Egypt in attempt to boost tourism and facilitate commuting.
Covering the entire country, around ten roads stand out in terms of effect and importance.
Sohag-Red Sea Road
As part of the plan to develop roads across the country, a new road linking Upper Egypt to the Red Sea governorate has been in the works for some time.
The Sohag-Safaga or Sohag-Red Sea road will boost the proximity between Upper Egypt and the Red Sea governorates; as well as further link the south of Egypt to Saudi Arabia, according to a statement to Youm7 by the Transportation Minister, Galal Al Saeed.
The road is also believed to reduce the number of deaths seen on the current road.
Estimated at a total cost of EGP 2 billion, the project will see the creation of a dual highway, thus enhancing the efficiency of the old road. The project has been completed by as much as 97%.
The road was scheduled for delivery in June this year, but no news has confirmed the inauguration.
Connecting Farafra in New Valley governorate to the southern city of Dairut in Assiut, the road was announced to be 65% complete, as of April 2016, by the governor of New Valley, Mohamed Ashmawy.
The Farafra-Dairut road will include three traffic lanes that are 3.5 meters wide each. At 310 kilometers long, the new road is planned to cost an estimated EGP 1.2 billion.
Additionally in Farafra, the government is executing a 100-km two-way road linking Farafra to El Wahat El Baharia; a project which is expected to cost EGP 214 million.
By April, around 60% of construction works in the Farafra-Wahat road were completed.
The Arab Contractors alongside four other contracting companies are carrying out the project, according to Tarek Sakr, Board Member and Head of the Roads Sector at the company.
Sakr noted that the Arab Contractors were implementing four road projects as part of the NRP with total cost of more than EGP 1 billion.
The Farafra-Wahat road is planned to be opened on the 3rd of October 2016, coinciding with the national 6th of October festivities, Ashmawy told Al Watan newspaper.
30 June Axis
The 30 June axis is a constructed to link Cairo to Port Said via Zagazig and Ismailia cities; in addition to linking several other main cities and governorates throughout the country.
The axis extends for almost 100 km in both directions and comprises of three car lanes and two truck lanes, Head of the Sinai Development Authority (SDA), Mohamed El Saqqa told Al Watan newspaper.
The project entails 16 tunnels, 12 bridges, and 10 traffic lanes in both directions.
Project costs are estimated at EGP 1.8 billion; however, it is likely that EGP 500 million will be added to the cost in order to extend the Axis to reach southern Port Said and build pedestrian tunnels in some areas.
The SDA official noted that 40% of roads and 50% of bridges that are part of 30 June Axis have been completed. The project encompasses the work of 13 contracting companies and provides around 5,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Gabal El Galala Road
The Gabal El Galala road (or Majesty Mountain road) is a highway that will be erected through the mountains on the Ain Sokhna road heading towards Zaafarana and Beni Suef.
It is expected that the new road will revive tourism in the Red Sea governorate, particularly in Hurghada. The road will replace the infamous two-lane non-divided road overlooking the Red Sea coast, which is known for its large number of twists and turns that have resulted in many deaths.
The new 82 kilometer freeway will include speeds reaching 120 kilometer per hour.
The new road will begin from the 112-kilometer mark on the Cairo-Ain Sokhna road passing through the Zaafarana-Beni Suef road which is part of the 30 June Axis.
Gabal el Galala is also an integral part of a road that begins at Port Said passing through the 30 June Axis until the 92-kilometer mark on the Cairo-Ismailia desert road. In addition, through its connection with the Suez-Ain Sokhna road, the new road will link the area to the Cairo-Cape Town road project.
The newspaper also reported that the Armed Forces Engineering Authority was carrying out the project in cooperation with the civil sector and around 53 local and public companies.
The road was scheduled for delivery in late April 2016, but was postponed to later in the year.
Cairo – Suez Road
The project involves adding a service route on either side of the road as well as expanding the main road via an additional lane so that it becomes a five-lane dual highway that includes six bridges and a tunnel.
Governor of Suez, Ahmed Al Hiatmy, recently confirmed that work on the Cairo-Suez road was ongoing and will be completed “soon”. He added that the new road will reduce the number of traffic accidents as it will include a side lane for trucks, which came as a response to the demands of citizens.
Completion levels for various parts in the Cairo-Suez road including segments and bridges have been completed by around 80% to 90%, according to Al Saeed. However, local media reported that although inauguration was set for 30th of June 2016, the opening was postponed indefinitely due to construction delays.
Essam Badawy, Head of the 6th of October Authority, announced in June this year the scheme for developing and upgrading several parts of the Wahat road axis, as well as the southern Dahshur connection.
The new connections will see the removal of all congestion-causing crossroads and replacing them with bridges and U-turn bridges.
These will include the Wahat-ring road crossing, the 26 of July axis and the southern Dahshur connection. In addition, the southern Dahshur connection will be linked to Fayoum via the Wahat road and will also be expanded by adding two lanes for heavy-weight vehicles.
The total cost of the project, which also includes beautifying the entrance to Fayoum, is estimated at EGP 2.2 billion, local media reported.
The project has been divided into segments and awarded to several companies, Badawy revealed.
The Shoubra-Benha road in Qaliyubia governorate is a freeway that will reduce traffic congestion on the Cairo-Alexandria agricultural road through which nearly 140,000 vehicles pass each day, according Al Saeed.
It will also allow traffic to avoid passing through residential areas.
The new 40 kilometer road entails a large bridge linking Cairo’s ring road with Shoubra El Kheima and Benha. The bridge alone is estimated at EGP 180 million.
The freeway entails the construction of a dual road with four 3.75-metre-wide lanes on both side, 41 bridges, and 30 tunnels, at a total cost of EGP 2.5 billion.
Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road
The Egyptian General Authority for Roads, Bridges, and Land Transport (GARBLT) recently announced the completion of the development and expansion works aimed at boosting the efficiency of the seventh and final segment of the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road.
The road will facilitate traffic and reduce travel time as well as bottlenecks and traffic congestions in the direction towards Alexandria.
Renovations of the four-lane dual highway cost a total of EGP 1.4 billion.
The 10 vehicle bridges and five pedestrian bridges have all been finalized according to Adel Tork, Head of GARBLT, noting that the expansions represent a “major leap” in the vital road.
Development of the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road began eight years ago and covers the area from the toll station opposite the Smart Village to Alexandria’s toll station.
Wadi El Natroun Road
The Wadi El Natroun road linking Cairo to Alamein City and the North Coast was reopened end of April 2016, after more than a year of construction work.
The popular highway was redeveloped and expanded from having only two lanes to a dual three-lane highway to accommodate the influx of traffic. The road also includes a separate side-lane for trucks.
Carried out under the supervision of GARBLT, the road covers an area of 135 kilometers, while project costs amount to EGP 1.9 billion.
Al Fouka Road
Al Fouka road links Cairo with the extensions of the currently under-development project of the West North Coast, located near Al Fouka and Ras El-Hekma areas. The new road will reduce the distance towards the coastal governorate of Matrouh, easing future trade access to Libya.
Beginning in Juhayna Square in 6th of October City, the road extends for a total 467 kilometers; thus cutting the distance between Cairo and Alamein by 100 kilometers and saves about an hour and a half in terms of travel time, as compared to the currently used route, according to Al Bawaba and Al Wafd.
The 197 kilometer Fouka road connection would be the first new highway to officially launch as part of the NRP.
Al Fouka road includes two lanes, each four meters in width and capable of accommodating two cars each. It was additionally designed to withstand varying temperatures particularly those including heavy rain, stated Al Watan newspaper.
An integral pillar to a countries growth, road-networks not only allows vehicles to travel from one destination to the other, but allow for investment, services, commodities, and jobs to reach new untamed areas, building life and enhancing the growth prospects of a country like Egypt.