Egypt is building a 6,000 kilometre railway to connect Upper Egypt with Sudan, Minister of Transportation Kamel El-Wazir said yesterday.
The railway, which will start at Abu Simbel in southern Egypt and continue to Abu Hamad in Sudan, was announced last year to facilitate the movement of goods and people between the two countries.
The project was proposed by an Egypt-Sudan cooperation committee jointly chaired by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and former longtime autocrat President Omar Al-Bashir and is part of cooperation between the two countries which spans a number of fields.
Whilst Sudan was undergoing popular protests against Al-Bashir earlier this year, Al-Sisi consistently supported his regime, receiving Vice President Mohammed El-Merghani and telling him that Sudanese stability was an integral part of Egyptian national security.
Egypt had a vested interest in preventing the protests spreading north.
Under Al-Bashir, the Egyptian regime requested Sudan arrest members of the Egyptian opposition, including Madian Hasanein who last month was being held at the Interior Ministry headquarters in Zagazig city, Sharqia governorate, after Sudanese authorities handed him over to Egypt.
Egypt also cracked down on Sudanese dissidents living in Egypt, including the opposition leader Sadiq Al-Mahdi.
Hours after the new Sudanese prime minister was sworn in at the beginning of September, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry was among the first officials to visit Sudan.
Cairo has consistently attempted to secure Khartoum’s support in its dispute with Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam. Egypt fears Ethiopia’s plan to fill the dam by 2022 will reduce its share of Nile water.
If Egypt maintains good relations with Sudan, it may pressure Ethiopia to fill the dam more slowly whilst Egypt finds alternative sources of water.
El-Wazir’s announcement comes not long after he was embroiled in controversy and calls for him to step down after he said two young men who were forced to jump from a train after a conductor found they couldn’t afford a ticket were not children and they knew they had to have a ticket.