As the ships in the past century have become bigger and the trade volumes have increased, the Egyptian government has decided to expand the channel due to its importance.
In August 2015, the government completed the expansion by building a 35-kilometer-long parallel channel in the area. The project cost about $8 billion and was primarily funded by selling investment certificates to private citizens.
The Egyptian authorities have expected the traffic to grow from 50 ships a day to 97, but low oil prices have led to a decrease in traffic. Fewer and fewer ships go through the Suez Canal, and now take the original route through the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa instead, DWN wrote.
According to the German newspaper Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN), over 100 ships had chosen the second route between October 2015 and December 2015, although the way is about 6,500 kilometers longer than the one which passes through the Suez Canal.
The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level passage in Egypt that enables ships to navigate between Europe and South Asia without going around Africa. Its unique location makes it very important to international maritime trade.