Forty-three companies that won contracts to take part in the construction of the New Suez Canal and ancillary projects have started work, Egyptian military spokesman, Brigadier-General Mohamed Samir has said.
Another five companies are awaiting the arrival of equipment before starting work, he added.
The 72km-long parallel waterway is a $4 billion project that will help ease traffic flow and provide a complimentary shipping route between Europe and Asia to the current 145-year-old Suez Canal.
The year-long project will eventually lead to 97 ships a day passing through the Canal, up from the present 49.
The channel, parallel to the current canal, will also include tunnels for motor vehicles and trains.
The area will also house a 76,000 square kilometre industrial zone and logistics hub.
Al-Ahram reported that Brig-Gen Samir said on his official Facebook page that 13.6 million cubic metres had so far been dug as part of the construction of the new channel.
Egypt-based Qalaa Holdings, an African leader in infrastructure and resources, is one of the 48 companies involved in the project
Its mining unit, ASCOM, was selected to take part in excavation of the New Suez Canal.
ASCOM, has been assigned to complete dry sand excavation on a one kilometre-long, 0.4-kilometre wide section of the New Suez Canal and has completed initial survey work on its assigned segment and has committed to the excavation of 25,000 cubic meters per day until such a time as they strike wet soil.
?ASCOM brings to this project clear experience as the leading provider of quarrying services to Egypt?s cement industry,? said Dr. Ahmed Heikal, Chairman and Founder of Qalaa Holdings.
Egypt earns some $5 billion annually from the Suez Canal, which is crucial to the country?s economy following its slump brought on by the 2011 political disturbances.
However, the World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Hartwig Schafer believes that new development projects along Canal “can make a big difference for [Egypt?s] struggling economy”.
The World Bank is providing advice for the project.