Atlas Account Manager returns from the New Suez Canal expansion project

The New Suez Canal

Since its completion in August, the biggest project of 2015, the New Suez Canal has achieved its ambitious deadline. The 22 mile waterway will be the route for approximately 8% of the world’s shipping traffic, becoming the main route for Europe and the Middle East.

Atlas Account Manager, Tim van der Stelt was asked by Boskalis to represent them on the project as their HR Consultant. Eight months on, Tim is back in the Netherlands assuming his role in Atlas’ Hoofddorp office. Tim talks to Atlas about the challenges at the Suez; his work with Boskalis and the problems at the canal’s opening ceremony.

A High Security Threat

“I returned from Cairo just a little over two weeks ago now, it’s nice to get back into the routine of eight hours a day five days a week,” explains Tim. “Working at the Suez, with almost 2000 personnel was a great experience for both me and Atlas.”  

Throughout its construction, the New Suez Canal was a high security threat, meaning that the progress of production was hindered on multiple occasions. “We encountered a number of problems with the police and the army as they sometimes wouldn’t allow access for our personnel. The project vehicles were also not allowed to drive on site, so we needed to talk to the army generals to solve these issues and ensure that productivity was not affected.”

The Symbol of Egypt

The $ 2 billion ‘symbol of Egypt’ was opened on 6th August 2015; however, Tim explains how the ceremony didn’t really go according to plan. “We were asked not to travel anywhere three days prior or after the opening ceremony, however, it soon became apparent that it was very difficult to travel anywhere near the canal. The ceremony took almost 10 hours and standing in the hot sun for that time without any refreshments was a lot to deal with. I expected a lot more from an opening ceremony for a project such as this.”

The New Suez Canal has been a memorable experience for Tim from start to finish. “Just being on site and witnessing the magnitude of this project is incredible. Looking at all the stats of the project and knowing that you have been a part of it and have represented your company as well is a great feeling. I also received good feedback from Boskalis so I know that it’s a job well done.”

This project is one for the history books, working around the clock for a year, shifting 250 million cubic meters of sand and helping to strengthen Egypt’s economy has been a highlight for Atlas’ year.