Effect of New Egyptian Port on Palestine, Discussed by London ‘times’

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency Mail Service)

In connection with the dedication by King Fuad of Egypt, of Port Fuad, the new town on the Asiatic bank of the Suez Canal, the London “Times” publishes an article in which it refers to the effect the new harbor will have on Palestine.

The idea of using Port Fuad as the Palestine harbor was put forward last July by Colonel Holmes, the manager of the Palestine railways, and immediately aroused a storm of protest among the Palestine population. The Palestine Government found it necessary to issue an official statement declaring that it did not intend to abandon the Haifa harbor project and utilize instead Fuad.

“The Egyptian and Palestine Railways authorities have for some time,” the “Times” writes, “cherished a scheme for making Port Fuad the railhead of the Palestine railway instead of Kantara, which is at present its western terminus.

“Kantara was made the jumping-off point for the trans-Sinai railway at the outset of the Palestine campaign for very obvious reasons of strategy. It served its purpose admirably. Kantara is, however, by no means suitable as a permanent railhead, and Port Fuad would offer distinct commercial advantages. With Port Fuad as a terminus for Palestine, as Port Said is for Egypt, steamers would land and embark passengers and shipments to and from Palestine on the Asiatic bank and deliver and receive passengers and goods to and from Egypt on the African side, while a special ferry would connect the Palestine and Egyptian systems for traffic between the two countries. The distance from Port Fuad to Romani, where the proposed new line will join the present Kantara-Haifa line, is only 30 miles. The distance from Romani to Kantara is 26 miles and from Kantara to Port Said 30 miles. There would consequently be an economy in haulage on all Palestine traffic to and from abroad, which amounted last year to 30,000 tons.

“The sailings to and from Port Said are much more frequent than to and from Jaffa, where ships call at relatively long intervals, and then chiefly when large Consignments are available. The Port Said (Port Fuad) route also offers considerably lower freights than that via Jaffa. Of course there is the extra rail distance in shipments via Port Said, but a good deal of this could be set off against the lighterage and other heavy expenses at Jaffa, and the inclusive rate via Port Said would not be higher than that via Jaffa, particularly if the Palestine railways give a good through-tariff.

“Moreover, for about one-fifth of the year ships cannot use Jaffa owing to the bad weather. It is true that a scheme is under consideration to improving that port. But apart from the fact that this will not be achieved in the short time that it would take to make Port Fuad available, and that it will cost a very much heavier sum, it will never ensure the frequent shipping opportunities that are available at Port Said, simply because the Palestine traffic alone is not sufficient to give the large shipping companies an inducement to call at Jaffa,” the “Times” states.

“Incidentally, lower freights and frequent sailings will be a boon to the orange trade, which is for all practical purposes the only export industry of Palestine. Nowadays the trade has to send out at long intervals in large consignments via Jaffa, with the result that the market is glutted periodically and prices rule low. Experiments have been made via Port Said, where small consignments have been sent at regular intervals, and it has been proved that this has produced much better prices. In other words, Port Fuad oilers what the orange trade badly wants–the means of keeping the home market regularly fed with small lots, and thus of maintaining a good steady price. This Jaffa will never be able to do. Further, passenger traffic with Palestine would also be facilitated. The time from Cairo to Jerusalem via Port Fuad would be practically the same as it is now via Kantara. Tourists arriving at that port would save six hours in the journey. Mails also between Europe and Jerusalem, Haifa, Beirut–and consequently Bagdad and Persia would save some twelve hours in transit, and trains could be timed to connect at Port Fuad with the main passenger steamers, and thus through communication with Iraq could be speeded up.

“The advantageous position of Port Fuad as a port compared with Jaffa would, indeed, appear to be obvious, and, as time goes on and the country inland opens up, there will be great opportunities for more trade between Europe and Central Arabistan, which an amelioration in communications such as the creation of a railhead at a Port Fuad, would encourage and develop a good deal more than could ever be the case via Jaffa.

“Admittedly the Port Fuad project, if executed, would take traffic away from Jaffa, but, while that port might suffer individually, Palestine as a whole, through the orange growers, whose connection with the foreign market is annually increasing, its railway, which would gain in revenue on all traffic via Port Fuad what it loses by the traffic which now goes via Kantara and Port Said, and its trade in general would materially benefit,” the paper writes.

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