THE public works of Egypt are so numerous and important that a mere catalogue of those constructed during the present reign would go far to account for the recent great development of both its trade and its debt. The correlation, indeed, of these three chief factors in the situation has been so close that it is not easy to say which among them has been cause and which effect; for while railways and canals rank for the most part first in order of time, the rapidly reacting growth of trade has forced on the extension of both at a rate which, in its turn, would have been impossible but for the borrowed capital represented by the debt. That somenot to say muchof this last has been wastefully expended, is not to be denied ; but the aggregate of railways, irrigating canals, docks, harbours, lighthouses, and telegraphsnearly the whole of which are already reproductivestill exceeds in value the entire net proceeds of the Egyptian foreign loans. The Suez Canal, usury to loan-mongers,
Improvident administration, and blackmail to Constantinople, quite sufficiently explain the large surplus of the present public debt. A brief sketch of the more important of these substantial state assets will illustrate, perhaps better than anything that has yet been said, the material progress made by Egypt within the past score of years. At the head of the list, in respect both of cost and immediate revenue value, stand above 1,100 miles of
These are divided Into two categoriesthe seaward, or those running north of Cairo, and the southern; but, except only the short line of 15 miles from the capital to the sanitarium of Helwân, the whole are now under the European administration, of which General Marriott was last year appointed chief, with Ismail Pasha (educated in England) as assistant director. Subjoined are the principal lines of the present working system.
Inch ding the duplications between Alexandria and Cairo, Benha and Zagazig, and Tanta and Mohallet-Roh, the mileage thus represented amounts to a total of 1,086 miles, to which have to be added the line of 15 miles to Helwtln, and about 25 miles in and around Cairo which are used only for Government purposes, raising the whole to about 1,126 miles, exclusive of 90 miles of sidings at the various stations.
The first line of the system dates from 1852, when Abbas Pasha commissioned Mr. Robert Stephenson to construct a single railway from Alexandria to the capital, in the interest of the then rapidly developing overland traffic. This line was subsequently doubled, and the floating ferry across the Rosetta branch of the Nile at Kafr-es-Zyat (65 miles from Alexandria), where Achmet Pasha, then heir to the throne, was accidentally drowned in 1856 by the train running into the river while the ferry was not in its place, was replaced by a splendid iron bridge of twelve spans, resting on hollow piles, at a cost of 400,0001. Five years later the communication between the two seas was completed by the construction of the direct desert line of 90 miles from Cairo to Suez. At the accession of the present Khedive these two lines and a branch of 24 miles from Benha to Zagazig formed the whole railway system of Egypt. The importance of largely increasing it was promptly felt by his Highness, and railway extension advanced at a rate which in a few years spread an iron network over most of the Delta, supplied an alternative route (on the left bank of the river) between Cairo and Alexandria, and invaded Upper Egypt and the Fayoum. In 1870 the disadvantages of the old desert line between the capital and Suezover which water had to be carried daily to feed the locomotives, and which developed nothing along its trackled to its abandonment, and the adoption of a new and longer route, by the extension of the Benha-Zagazig branch for 98 miles along the fresh-water canal to Ismailia, and thence nearly due south by the side of the same channel and the maritime Canal to Suez. Of the 245 miles there-fore in operation at the death of Said Pasha, only 156 form part of the existing network in other words, including the duplications, the present reign is to be credited with 971 of the whole 1,126 miles which now reticulate the country.
As the earthworks on nearly the whole of these lines have been constructed by corvée labour, it is estimated that their capital cost, including a first supply of rolling stock, averaged about 11, 0001. a mile. But as this again was all borrowed money obtained at certainly not less than 12 per cent. interest, the ultimate cost of the system came fully up to the average of European railways, and their revenue returns must in fairness be also estimated accordingly. On the other hand, the moderate rate of speed at which all the trains are driven–except the one daily express between Alexandria and Cairo, and the mail trains between Suez and Alexandriaand the cheapness of native labour, which is now employed in nearly all branches of the service, enable the working expenses to be kept much below the European average, the respective proportions being about 46 to 53 per cent. of the receipts. The highly-waged English and French engine-drivers and mechanics having been nearly all replaced by well-trained Egyptians, fuel and the rolling stock are now almost the only costly working items ; but, as against these, the tariff for both passengers and (especially) goods carriage is much higher than in Europe. Some modification has recently been made in this last ; but the policy of any considerable reduction is questionable, as water-carriage, though cheaper and still considerable in some districts, nowhere effectively competes with railway transport. A readjustment of many of the existing traffic charges might be made with advantage to both the public and the department, as the incidence of not a few of them is anomalous and inequitable ; but, collectively regarded, neither trade nor industry is unduly weighted by the present average tariffs. Until the recent transfer of the administration to European hands, it was notorious that great frauds were systematically practised on the service, with the connivance of underpaid Or dishonest officials ; but it may be expected that these will now cease ; and, if so, the gain to revenue from this source alone will tell appreciably on the year’s receipts.
But great as has been this extension of railways in Egypt proper within the past twenty years, it pales before a grandiose scheme conceived by the Khedive, soon after his accession, for the peaceful conquest and development of the vast but hitherto profitless provinces on the Upper Nile, by means of the same agency, employed on a still larger scale. The steam communication between Alexandria and Suez had shortened the overland Indian voyage by several days, but bis Highness projected a yet further reduction of it by continuing the iron road from Cairo up through the Soudan to Shendy, the con-verging points for the camel routes from Khartoum and the White Nile, and thence via Kassala to Massowah, which would save fully three days’ time, and nearly the whole Red Sea voyage. In 1865 a preliminary study was made of the country between Assouan and Khartoum ; but, although the report on this was favourable to the proposed scheme, nothing further was done till 1871, when a fresh and detailed survey was executed under the direction of Mr. Fowler, his Highness’s chief consulting engineer. In the result, the dimensions of the project were reduced to Wady-Halfa, at the bottom of the Second Cataractbelow which the Nile is navigable by steamers down to the First Cataract, and thence again to Cairobeing selected as its northern, and Metemmeh, opposite Shendy, as its southern terminus, the distance between these two points as surveyed being only 550 miles, and that from Shendy to Massowah about 500 more. The work was accordingly begun at Wady-Halfa, on the right bank of the river, in 1873 ; but financial considerations have delayed its progress and compelled a modification of the line, which, as now finally projected, will run for 1510 miles, partly through a wild and rocky desert, in which engineering difficulties unknown in Egypt proper have to be overcome, till it regains the Nile at Kohê, where an iron bridge, consisting of one central span of 80 metres, two of 80 m., and 26 other openings of 18 m, each, will carry it across to the left bank, which it will then skirt for 50 miles further on to Hannek. Here the river will be again utilised up past Ordeh, the capital of Lower Nubia, to Aboo-Goosi, at which much of the caravan traffic from Kordofan and Darfour converges. At this point the iron road will be resumed, and run for a further distance of about 200 miles across the great plain or desert of Bahiuda not to Shendy, as originally proposed, but to Khartoum, the proper capital of the Soudan, where it will for the present terminate, the proposed extension to Massowah having perforce been abandoned. The original intention of constructing the line within three years has also been necessarily modified, and its progress will now depend on the development of the local revenue, by which the cost of the work is to be defrayed ; for the Soudan itself is to bear the whole of this, without any part of it being thrown upon Egypt proper. Mr. Fowler’ s original estimate for the whole line from Wady-Halfa to Shendy was 4,000,0001. or about 7,250£. a mile for a narrow-guage road of 3 ft. 8 in., with light rails weighing 50 lbs. a yard, and the requisite rolling stockof which 2,500,000£. was apportioned to the European part of the work and materials, and the remainder to native labour, and such wood and stone as the country traversed could supply. The elimination of the section between Hannek and Aboo-Goosi will of course reduce this estimate, but not pro tanto, as the selection of this latter, instead of Ambakol, as the point at which the line will strike out from the river to cross the desert of Bahiuda, and of Khartoum instead of Shendy as its southern terminus, will add nearly 40 miles to its length in this direction. About 50 miles of the earthworks, and 40 of the permanent way, are already made south of Wâdy-Halfa, and by the time the Upper Egypt line has been completed from its present terminus at Assiout to Assouanwhere a short steam tramway already turns the First Cataract to PhilæHannek will probably have been reached, and steam communication thus established by rail and river between Alexandria and the heart of the Soudan. Beyond Khartoum the country has also been surveyed by Mr. Fowler’s staff, for a still remoter line to Darfour ; but this is as yet in futuro, and need not therefore at present engage remark.
Egyptian agriculture being wholly dependent on artificial irrigation, the system of canals by which the yearly overflow of the Nile is caught, stored, and distributed, has at all times ranked foremost among the industrial public works of the country. From the Pharaohs to the Khedive its maintenance in thorough repair has always been the special and anxious care of the Government, since on this, next after the inundation itself, hangs the success or failure of the year’s crops, on which in turn depends more than half the year’s revenue. Here again, the energy of the present ruler has been conspicuous !n improving and extending the network as Mehemet Ali left it* for few or no additions were made to it by either Abbas or Saïdwith the result that the whole now lineally measures more than 8,400 miles, with a water surface of nearly 100,000 square acres. The system comprises two classes of channels, the larger of which (called séfi, or summer, canals) are used for both navigation and irrigation, while the smaller ones (called nïli, or high Nile, canals) serve the latter purpose only. Until the introduction of railways nearly the whole transport of the middle and lower provinces was done by water, and even now the greater cheapness of the old method still secures for it a considerable share in the carriage of native produce to the coast and the chief inland markets. But with two or three exceptions the primary object of the whole 870 odd canals which now reticulate the country is to receive and distribute the precious fluid on which everything depends. Distinguishing the two classes, we find in all 113 navigable canals, 62 of which run through Upper and Middle Egypt, and 51 through the lower provinces. Of the former, the Bahr-Yousuf generally, but inaccurately, gives its name to the long chain of channels that winds down for about 350 miles on the western side of the Nile, nearly midway between the river and the Libyan hills, from Far-shoot to a few miles above Cairo. The first action of this great watercourse is, however, more properly called the Moie-t-Soohâg, from the provincial capital of Girgeh, whence it takes its name, and past which it runs in a channel nearly forty miles long by more than 300 feet wide, watering the country as far down as the southern districts of Assiout. It is the only canal in Upper Egypt whose annual opening about the middle of August, to admit the swollen Nile, is the occasion of an officio-religious ceremony similar to that which takes place at the cutting of the Khaleeg at Cairo in the same month. The Bahr-Yousuf proper (Joseph’s river) taps the Nile above Mellawee, and runs for more than 150 miles, with a width similar to that of the Soohaghieh, through the provinces of Assiout, Minieh, and Benisouef, and then, turning westwards through the opening in the Libyan range be-hind the latter town, enters the valley of the Fayoum, which it abundantly waters through a great network of branches, one of which empties into the Birket-el-Korn, and another, re-issuing from the valley, joins the Nile again above Rigga. Popular tradition ascribes the construction of this great channel to the patriarch whose name it bears, but some geographers regard it as an old branch of the Nile, which, after watering the Fayoum, ran on into the Bahr-bela-ma already mentioned, and so into the Mediterranean westwards of Alexandria. It is only navigable throughout its whole course during the inundation, being nearly dry in several parts during the rest of the year. The Ibrahimieh, which is a work of the present Khedive, and the next greatest. channel on the western side of the river, begins near the town of Assiout, and with a width of about 200 feet for one-third of its course and of fifty for the remainder, runs nearly parallel with the Bahr-Yousuf, for more than ninety miles, further watering, with many branches, Assiout, Minieh, and the wide extent of fertile land which the sweep of the river to the Arabian hills, below Behnesa, leaves on its Libyan side. In connection with these canals in Upper Egypt is a chain of vast reservoirs, chiefly the work of Mehemet All, which, filled from the river during the inundation, subsequently distribute their contents into smaller basins at a lower level, and so furnish water to the neighbouring land, as needed throughout the greater part of the year.
Of the fifty or more navigable canals below Cairo, the most important arc (1) the Ismaïlieh, a work of the present reign, which, starting from the river near Boulak, runs in a fine broad navigable channel for nearly fifty-five miles to the fresh-water canal from Zagazig to Suez, and so gives water communication between Cairo and Suez. The connection of this great work with the maritime Canal (by the widening and deepening of the fresh-water channel, respectively to 180 and 11i feet between Zagazig and Ismaïlieh) has been completed, and through navigation for vessels up to 400 tons burthen, paying only half the large Canal dues established between Cairo and the two seas. The new water-way will be worked under contract with the Suez Canal Company for the carriage of produce from Middle and Upper Egypt to Ismaïlieh, for shipment to Europe, in competition with Alexandria. Coals may be thus landed at Boulak direct from Cardiff or the Tyne, and return freights of cotton, sugar, wheat, or seeds be taken back in the same bottoms. (2) The Bahr-Moêz, supposed to be the old Tanitic branch,* which begins at Mit-Radi, near Benha, on the right bank of the Damietta branch, and widening through the province of Charkieh, divides near Tell-Basta (Bubastis) into two channels, which empty themselves into Lake Menzaleh. (3) The Chibin-el-koum, a fine canal nearly ninety miles long, which zigzags across the Delta from Quarnyeyn, on the Damietta to Farastaq on the Rosetta branch, throwing out, at the village from which it takes its name, a branch called the Mélig, which joins the Tabanieh canal below Sibél-Nitus, and with the latter empties itself into Lake Bourlosa course which is almost identical with that of the old Sebenitic branch of the river. (4) The Menoufieh, which crosses the Delta a short way below its apex. And (5) the Mahmoudieh, which connects Alexandria with the Nile at Atfeh, on the Rosetta branch, about twenty-seven miles above the latter town. This last important channel, which is another of the great works of Mehemet Ali, follows in a part of its course the bed of the ancient Canopic branch, and the old canal of Fooah, which the neglect of the Mamelukes allowed to finally dry up about a century ago. The present channel was begun in 1819, and during the ten months of its construction by the labour cf 250,000 men, it cost 300,0001., and 20,000 lives, which perished by accident, hunger, and disease. Its length from the Nile to Alexandria is about fifty miles, with an average width of one hundred feet, and it is navigable for large river craft throughout the year. Altogether, these greater canals and their navigable branches make up a system of some 1, 900 miles between Farshoot and the Mediterranean. As, however, many sections of this are dry during low Nile, the water-way it would otherwise afford for the transport of local produce broken and inefficient. But much has been. done within the past dozen years to remedy this, by deepening the defective channels, and below Cairo especially the inter-communication is now fairly complete.
These main arteries, however, form little more than one-fourth of the whole canal system of the country. In tipper and Middle Egypt, from Assouan to Cairo, there are 348 minor channels which serve only for irrigation. Of these the province of Esneh reckons 9, that of Kenneh 14, Girzheh 19, Assiout 63, Minieh 71, Benisouef 52, the Fayoum in all 111, and Ghizeh 9. In the Lower prov Ines there are 408, of which Galioubieh has 27, Menou-fish 24, Garbieh 75, Charkieh 181, Dahkalieh 28, and Behera ’73. Of this total of 756 canalsmeasuring in all 6,500 milesa few in the Delta start direct from the Nile, but the great majority are subordinate ductscapillaries, so to speakof the larger channels, by which the vital fluid is circulated to the arable extremities of the country. Of the whole 840 canals, 112 have been constructed during the present reign, mostly below Cairo, besides 426 bridges-150 in Upper, and 276 in Lower Egypt.
The means by which the yearly inundation is caught and distributed through this great network, over almost the whole cultivable surface of the country, are at once simple and efficient. In Upper Egypt a system of reservoirs, already mentioned, receives and stores most of the supply needed from Assouan to Assiout, below which a less complete chain of similar basins serves in part a like purpose down as far as Ghizeh, the province opposite Cairo. Thence to the Mediterranean, the whole work of storage and distribution is done by canals. Of these, both in Upper and Lower Egypt, the large primary ones tap the Nile at a higher elevation than that of the districts they are intended to inundate, and are themselves again tapped by the secondary channels, which irrigate still lower and remoter levels, and from which, in their turn, branch off yet smaller courses that are again cut, almost at will by the villagers, till the precious fluid is finally distributed as the exigencies of the various crops require. The headworks of the large canals, which issue direct from the river, consist generally of substantial stone or brick-built viaducts, with openings of from ten to fifteen feet wide, which are closable by vertical planks or sheet piling. At intervals down the canal similar dykes are placed to produce successive heads of water, as far down as the annual in-take will feed an overflow into the adjoining fields, or materially reduce the height to which the water has to be raised by manual or other labour. The secondary canals branch from the larger ones through wires similar to those described, and, like them again, are dammed at intervals to feed the smaller channels, by means of stone or brick conduits through their banks. Like the Nile itself, where necessary, the whole of these canals are embanked, and the maintenance of their earthworks is a rigorous duty of the adjoining villagers. The depth of water in the navigable canals averages about three feet at low Nile ; but, as the beds of the smaller channels are considerably above the ebb level of the river, these latter are, of course, dry during the greater part of the year. Soon after the annual rise beginsabout July the head dams of the larger canals are opened, and the rising volume of water is admitted into the first sections till their banks are overflowed, and the adjoining land flooded ; the dykes lower down are then in turn similarly opened, as also those which feed the secondary channels, till the inundation is complete. As in “low” years the supply is insufficient for the whole area to be irrigated, so in over-high Niles there is more water than is required, and the excess is more or less destructive of all the crops near the river. Another class of canals accordingly serves to catch this surplus water, and discharge it into the river lower down. But the existing provision for this method of drainage is still Inadequate, and three times during the past ten years great damage has been done by overflows that could not be thus diverted in time. The great annual inundation, which is controlled and distributed in the manner now described, is further supplemented by numerous wells, by many thousands of sakkias and shadoofs, and a yearly increasing multitude of steam and other pumps, the operation and uses of which will be more conveniently described in our chapter on agriculture.
Extensive as is this great system of canalisation, it is still not only insufficient to water all the land that might be reclaimed to cultivation in Lower Egypt, but it provides imperfectly for even the existing area during the eight months of ebb. To irrigate this adequately would require a constant supply all the year round in the main canals at the same height, and in the same quantity as when the river has risen from twelve to fifteen feet ; and to obtain this desideratum the engineers of the French expedition first projected, and Mehemet All, nearly fifty years later constructed, the great work known as the Barrage of the Nile, immediately below the apex of the Delta. After experiment of the principle on one of the larger canals, the plans prepared by M. Mougel, a French engineer in the service of the Viceroy, were adopted, and in 1847 the structure, on a much grander and costlier scale than had been suggested to Napoleon, was begun. The scheme consisted of a vast double bridge or viaduct, the western section of which was to span, and by a system of sluices dam back, the Rosetta branch, and the eastern the Damietta. It was estimated that the great work and its necessary complement of new canals would provide for the efficient irrigation of nearly 4,000,000 acres of ground, and by dispensing with more than 25,000 sakkias and shadoofs would set free for other labour the many thousands of men and oxen employed in working these antiquated machinesa result which, if accomplished, would have been commercially well worth its cost. During the next couple of years the work was vigorously pushed on, with a vast expenditure of money and labour, but soon after the accession of Abbas Pasha it was suspended, and has not since been resumed. The section over the Rosetta branch is, however, nearly complete, and is a structure of fine architectural effect. The riverat this point 506 yards wideis spanned by a bridge of sixty-one arches of sixteen-feet span, with a sluice-gate in each opening, and the whole capped by a line of crenellated turrets corresponding in design with loftier towers over the entrance gateways and in the centre of the work. A similar but longer structure bridges the Damietta branch, which is 592 yards wide, but the sluice arrangement is here incomplete ; and, except during high Nile, the only water that passes through this section is conveyed by a canal from the other side, and rushes through two or three arches only, the rest remaining dry. It was originally intended to back up the river by this structure about fifteen feet, but owing to the defective foundations it has not been deemed prudent to submit the work to a greater strain than that due to a head of from three to five feet of water, a level which is sufficient for the lands of Lower Egypt without the costly supplement of steam or other pumping.
The urgent want, therefore, of more efficient irrigation than this incomplete work affords, has recalled attention to the necessity of complementing it by other means of supply ; and, in considering these, the choice has lain between a system of high-level canals, and the completion and extension of the present Barrage. The view of the Government was at first favourable to the former plan, according to which the Nile would have been tapped either at Queremate, on its right bank about fifty miles above Cairo, or on the left bank at Echment three miles higher up, and, by means of a flatter fall than that of the river, a head of water would have been provided sufficient to supply a regulated irrigation to nearly 3,000,000 feddans of land below the capital all the year round, thus rendering the greater part of Lower Egypt practically in-dependent of a good or bad Nile. The great cost, how-ever, of either of these schemes led to their abandonment, and it was then decided to utilise Mougel Bey’s great work. In 1875, therefore, Mr. Fowler was instructed to exhaustively examine the condition of this structure, and to submit estimates and plans for its completion. This was done early in the following year, and, as the result showed that for an outlay of about 1,000,0001. the work could be made to realise its original purpose, and so supply nearly all the additional irrigation required, it has been decided that this shall be done. Mr. Fowler’s scheme is to complete the sluices of the existing Barrage, and to construct a new set on deep and very massive foundations immediately below the down-stream edge of the present work, which, while limiting the pressure on the old foundation to less than five feet, will raise the whole hydraulic head to the required level originally designed. The entire structure will be further strengthened by a broad mass of rubble, incorporated with two lines of béton blocks, traversing the river-bed immediately below the new sluices, and so forming a solid abutment to the whole. When these additions to this great work have been carried out, vast tracts of new land may be at once brought under cultivation, and with the aid of a few additional canals to distribute the precious fluid over the extended area, the complete irrigation of Lower Egypt will have been provided for, with an immense economy of labour and money, as compared with the costly and inefficient system now in use. The result will be an en-during monument for both the sovereign and the engineer to whose joint energy and skill its achievement will be due.
Àlexandria.–The modern harbour of Alexandria in which the trade of the port is now carried on lies, as already described, within the upper curve of a bay formed by the two projecting headlands of Ras-el-Teen, on the NE., and Cape Adjemi and Marabout Island on the SW., and measuring six miles in length by an average of two in width. It is landlocked on every side except one, the SW. ; the wind from this direction is, however, the prevailing one during eight or nine months of the year, and from time immemorial the ” sea ” thus occasioned has seriously impeded the loading and discharge of vessels in the roadstead by stone lighters, as the custom has hitherto been. The importance of remedying this great draw-back on the convenience of his chief port had been felt by the Khedive from soon after his accession, but it was not till the threatened rivalry of the Suez Canal had emphasised the necessity that he finally decided on carrying out a work of such magnitude and cost. Accordingly, in 1870, a contract was entered into with Messrs. Greenfield and Co., an eminent English firm, for the construction of a great breakwater, an inner harbour mole, and a line of quays, which should, together, afford the requisite shelter and increased accommodation needed by the growing trade of the port. After some months spent in the necessary preparations the work was begun in the spring of 1871, when the Khedive in person laid the foundation stone. Since then the original plan has been considerably modified, but it will be sufficient to mention its ultimate lines as now in great part carried out. Commencing at a point fifty metres SW. of the Ras-el-Teen lighthouse, the outer breakwater extends first in this latter direction for nearly 1,000 metres, and then, curving to SSW., runs in a straight line 2,350 metres further, or, in all, above two miles across the mouth of the harbour, enclosing an area of more than 1,400 acres of still water, deep enough for vessels of the largest class. The principal entrance to the port is now, therefore. round the south-western end of the breakwater, which is 1,500 metres from the shore, while the narrow passage off Ras-el-Teen affords ingress and egress only to small craft and shore boats. As in the case of the great moles at Port Said, this outer sea-wall has been constructed, up to the water-level, of huge blocks of concrete, manufactured at the neighbouring Mex quarries, of sand and Theil lime, and deposited pell-mell on the sea side, with an inner front of rubble. The upper portion of the work, which is of solid masonry, rises ten feet above the lowest, or seven above the highest sea-level,* and is of a uniform surface width of twenty feet. In all, about 25,000 concrete blocks, weighing twenty tons each, and 130,000 tons of large and small rabble stones, have been sunk in the foundations of this great work. Shorewards the scheme comprises a broad mole, stretching out 900 metres from the mouth of the Mahmoudieh Canal and the harbour terminus of the Cairo railway, towards Ras-el-Teen ; and a line of quays, 1,240 metres long, extending from the same point along the Marina to close upon the Admiralty Dock. Like the inner mole, these quays are based on a deep rubble foundation, with a superstructure of solid masonry, and when completed will have abutting iron jetties, alongside which ships may load and discharge in all weathers. A branch railway will connect the mole and quays with the Alexandria and Cairo line, and thus with the whole railway system of the interior; so that when the line now in advanced progress to Khartoum is completed, the abundant produce of the Soudanwhich is at present all but wholly shut out from the Western marketswill be carried to the Mediterranean almost in fewer days than it has hitherto taken months by the slow transport of river and caravan.
The necessary complement of this undertaking-the total cost of which will exceed 2,000,0001. sterlingwill be the removal of the ledge of rock in the mouth of the harbour known as the Three Fathoms Shoal. Dangerous even in daylight, this obstruction practically closes the port between sunset and sunrise ; and as the increased power of modern cannon has deprived it of all strategical value as a protection against hostile shipping, its removal has now become, so to speak, a corollary of Messrs. Greenfield’s great work. Already the harbour dues of 4d. a ton on vessels with cargo, and 2d. on those in ballast, levied since the completion of the breakwater, yield about 130, 0001. a year, and it is estimated that little more than a twelvemonth’s receipts of these would cover the cost of blasting and clearing away this now sole impediment to safe and easy entrance to the port at any hour or in any weather.
Suez.The works at this port, though less extensive and costly than those at Alexandria, are still only second to these latter in magnitude and importance. The idea of them was originally limited to a dry dock, the want of which was soon felt by the Peninsular and Oriental Company after beginning, in 1842, the mail and passenger service between England and India, via’ Egypt. There was at that time no accommodation for repairing vessels south of the Isthmus nearer than Bombay, and the Company therefore strongly urged the Egyptian Government to erect either a gridiron or a floating dock at Suez To supply the want. The application was however persistently refused till 1861, when the Messageries Impériales Company appeared as rivals in the field of navigation east of the Gulf, andFrench influence being then. in the ascendant at Cairoobtained almost in a month what had been denied to the English for nearly nineteen years. The maritime Canal had been begun, but even in France there were sceptics as to its success, and it was felt that in any event a graving dock at Suez would still be of use to the fleet of steamers with which the new Franco-Chinese mail service was to be carried on. A concession was accordingly obtained by the French Company from Said Pasha for the construction of a dock at a cost of 7,000,000 frs., to be borne by the Egyptian Government, and in 1862 the work was begun by Messrs. Dussaud Frères, a well-known firm of French engineers, who had already executed similar works at Cherbourg and Marseilles, and who subsequently also made the harbour at Port Said. The point chosen for the new dock was at the head of the roadstead, about a couple of miles south of the town, where a space was dredged sufficient to give an enclosed area of 410 ft. long, by 90 ft. wide, with a depth of 36 ft.on an axis WSW., and ENE.the excavated soil of which, de-posited round it, soon hardened into good ground with a surface a metre above high-water mark, for the pumping engine-house and the other necessary buildings. The enclosing walls and entrance piers, 80 ft. apart, are of the most solid masonry, and the length of the dock can be reduced to 390 ft. by means of a massive shifting caisson which forms the outer gate. During the progress of the work the contractors received from the Government a further sum of 1,500,000 frs., in commutation of native forced labour which was to have been supplied by it, to which a few other small amounts were also added, raising the total cost of the undertaking to about 350,0001. The dock was opened in 1866, and it was then intended merely to add to it a line of quays right and left of its entrance, respectively for the use of Government and merchant ships ; but in view of a large expected increase in the local trade, the Viceroy decided in constructing a complete artificial harbour large enough to provide for any eventuality. Messrs. Dussaud accordingly designed a port capable of indefinite extension, and, after some delay, the new farther works on this were begun in 1870. These comprise a large outer basin (now called Port Ibrahim), divided by a broad and massively-built mole, 1,700 ft. long, into two sections, one for men-of-war and the other for commercial shipping, and quays running north and southenclosing altogether an area of more than 100 acres of water surface, with a minimum depth of 23 ft., and a total quay frontage of 10,500 ft., alongside which nearly thirty of the largest ships may load or discharge at one time. The rapid success, however, of the Canal having almost destroyed the transit trade of Suez, the works were suspended in 1875, leaving the full scheme incomplete, but with finished accommodation more than sufficient to meet all the probable wants of the port for some years to come. A branch railway, which delivers and takes up passengers and cargo in a covered station close to the moorings of the P. & O. steamers, connects the whole with Suez, running along a raised stone-faced embankment, which also supports a good carriage road. As yet, no harbour dues are charged to vessels using either the basins or the quays, but for the graving-dock, a charge is made of 701. for the first, and half that amount for each subsequent day of its occupation. This covers nothing but the use of the dock, and assistance in placing the ship on the blocks ; and, unless her own. resources suffice for the repairs needed, both materials and skilled labour must as a rule be brought from Alexandria. The entrances to both the wet and dry docks are clear and easy, the former being accessible at all times of the tide, and, to vessels under steam, in any weather. Considerable inconvenience is occasioned by the retention of the Custom-house up at the town of Suez, to which all cargo for Egyptian use has still to be transported as of old in lighters for examination, only through goods and the mails being discharged into the railway trucks for conveyance to Alexandria, where they are re-shipped under Customs supervision. The total cost of these works, including that of the dry dock, has already exceeded 1,400,000£.
In respect of these important aids to navigation Egypt now compares favourably with the best lighted seaboards of Europe. And here again, with one exception, the present reign is to be credited with the whole of the existing admirable system. At the death of Said Pasha the lighthouse at Alexandria, which has since received a new lantern and been otherwise improved, was the only structure of its kind on any part of the Egyptian coast, while an inefficient floating-light in the bay of Suez was the sole beacon on the western side of the Red Sea ; there are now eight powerful lights on the Mediterranean coast, and seven on the Red Sea. Of the former, four serve the harbour and bay of Alexandriaone, the fine 20-second revolving light on Ras-el-Teen Point, visible for twenty miles; close by, at the end at the breakwater, a red light, visible for six miles ; a third on Marabout Island, at the western extremity of the bay ; and, beyond that, the fourth, also a fixed first-class light, in the Arab’ s Gulf. Eastwards, off Rosetta, is a fine flashing red-and-white light ; at Cape Bourlos, a fixed white one ; off Damietta, a flashing white light ; and at Port Said, in addition to the small coloured beacon at the extremity of the two harbour-moles, a first-class electric 20-second light, visible twenty miles off. On the Red Sea, besides the white light at the entrance to the Suez Canal and the floating beacon in the Suez roads, a powerful eighteen-mile light has been erected off that harbour ; a second, a fixed white light, visible four-teen miles off, on Zafarana Point, fifty miles south of Suez ; the third, a similar but more powerful light, on Ras Gharib, fifty miles still lower down ; a fourth, on Jubal Island, at the mouth of the Gulf, is a 60-second revolving light, visible for eighteen miles ; a fifth, on the Daedalus reef, nearly in the middle of the Red Sea, in lat. 24° 66′ N., is a fixed second-class light, visible four-teen miles off ; a sixth, of similar power, at Souakim ; and a seventh at Berbera, on the Indian Ocean. On the eastern coast also, below Suez, a new light has been erected at El-Wedge, the quarantine station for vessels arriving from Red Sea ports. The total cost of the four-teen of these lights erected during the present reign is estimated at 187, 9641. The whole are . of the best European construction, and their keepers are for the most part Englishmen. The light-duesof 2p. (4.922d.) per ton up to 800 tons (Turkish measurement), and of 1p. per ton beyond that capacityafford, since the great increase in the traffic through the Red Sea consequent on the opening of the Suez Canal, a revenue considerably in. excess of the cost of the service, and might therefore be reasonably readjusted in favour of Canal-going ships, which pay this high rate on both their upward and down-ward voyages, whereas vessels from the southward, which proceed no farther than Suez, and return thence, pay only once for the double trip. A reduction of 5 per cent is made in favour of regular postal steamers, and men-of-war are wholly exempt, as are also small craft of less than ten tons burthen. Few, however, will grudge the Government a liberal margin of profit, as on perhaps no part of the coasts of Europe is the light service more efficient than on these northern and eastern shores of Egypta result which is chiefly due to the energy and intelligence of our countryman, McKillop Pasha, under whose superintendence most of the lights were erected, and who now manages the whole.
Like its railways, the telegraphs of Egypt are mainly the creation of the present reign. At the death of Said Pasha only six short lines, measuring in all about 350 miles, were in existence. There are now, including three private lines worked under concessions granted by the Government, thirty-six, spanning more than 5,500 miles, with nearly 10,400 miles of wire. It is true that, except in Lower Egypt, this great extension of the system represents rather increased administrative facilities than a proportionate growth in commercial and general correspondence ; but even in the Middle and Upper provinces the statistics of the department show an increase of nearly 34 per cent. in the non-Government traffic during 1875 as compared with that of 1869, while below Cairo the development has been much greater. Subjoined is a list of the present network.
The system thus outlined supplies telegraphic 3ommu. nnication to every considerable town, and even to most of the larger villages in Egypt proper, and, southwards, to all the chief Government and trading stations from Assouan to the countries bordering the Blue and White Niles. The whole network is divided into eight ” sections,” the first of which includes all stations in Lower Egypt, the second those between Cairo and Assiout, the third between Assiout and Esneh, the fourth between Esneh and Wady-Halfa, the fifth between Wady-Halfa and Dongola, the sixth between Dongola and Berber, the seventh between Berber and Khartoum, and the eighth between Khartoum and Massowah. The tariff charge for a single message of twenty words, including the address, is 10 pias. for each section. Arabic is the language employed on all lines south of Cairo, but in Lower Egypt English, French, Italian, and Turkish are also in common use. Except for the special railway wires, which are worked by the old needle instrument, the Morse ink-recorder is the apparatus generally employed. This service is also under English management, with Mr. George as director and Mr. Gisborne as engineer.
Besides these Government lines, the Eastern Telegraph Company has been allowed to construct and work two lines between Alexandria and Suez for its through Red Sea service, one via Cairo and the old desert route, and the other via Benha and Zagazig, both double-wire lines, and respectively 233 and 229 miles in length. The Suez Canal Company also works, for the purposes of its own administration, a line along the Canal 96 miles long. Externally Egypt is in telegraphic communication with Europe by the land line through Syria and Asia Minor to Constantinople, and by the Eastern Company’s cables (1) from Alexandria to Constantinople via Candia, Rhodes, and Smyrna ; (2) from Alexandria via Candia and Zante to Otranto ; (3) from Alexandria to Italy via Malta and Sicily ; (4) from Alexandria to England vid Malta, Gibraltar, Lisbon, and Porthcurno (Cornwall) ; and (5) from Alexandria to France via Malta, Bona, and Marseilles ; and with India, China, the Straits, Australia, and New Zealand, by the same Company’s Red Sea and extreme eastern cables. Another submarine line to Europe is also projectedfrom Alexandria viâ Candis and the Piræus.
Besides nearly 500 smaller works of this class built over various canals, six or eight large ones have also been constructed during the present reign. The most important of these is the monumental iron structure over the Nile at Cairo, which has replaced the old rickety ferry that a dozen years ago contributed so much to the picturesqueness and the inconvenience of an excursion to the Pyramids. This splendid bridge spans the river from Kasr-en-Nil to Gizereh with a level macadamised roadway, 40 metres wide and 406 in length. Its first section on the Cairo side opens on a central pivot, and twice in the twenty-four hours affords a double up and down water-way 32 metres wide, with an average depth of 10 metres ; the remainder of the bridge consists of seven spans, the first and last of which are 46 metres, and the intermediate five 50 metres long, the whole resting on massive circular piles, foundationed on concrete. This fine work was completed in February, 1872, by the French company of Fives-Lille, at a cost of 108,0001.
Gizereh, as its name imports, was formerly an island, but some years ago the passage between it and Ghizeh, on the Libyan bank of the river, was closed by a broad embankment, and the entire stream turned into the eastern channel. But the great volume of water thus forced against the right bank gradually so encroached upon it as to threaten to undermine the river front of Boulak, and to prevent this the Khedive decided on re-opening the whole passage. With this view, another bridge has been constructed over its dry bed, which is to be cleared out and the river re-admitted. This, which is also of iron, is 180 metres long, and, like the larger one, is planned to open for the passage of river craft, but, whether owing to the subsidence of the foundations or some defect in. the construction, this part of its intended use is not likely to be realised, as the swing section is already so dislocated as to be practically locked. The work, which was constructed by an English firm, cost 40, 0001., and was also completed in 1872. Two other handsome but smaller bridges, which also open, have been built over the Ismaili eh canalone not far from the point in which it taps the Nile, and the other near the railway stationa fifth at Abbassieh, another at Foueh nearly opposite Atfeh, where the Mahmoudieh canal joins the Rosetta branch, and two over the latter canal itself at Alexandria. These are all substantial if not imposing structures, and would compare not unfavorably with similar works of their class in Europe.