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[photo] Mubarak Pumping Station
[Photo] Mubarak Pumping Station

Infrastructure for 3 Million People


The Mubarak Pumping Station was constructed between 1998 and 2003. Egypt is 2.7 times the size of Japan, but much of its land is covered in desert, and vegetation covers only about 6% of the land area, mostly along the banks of the Nile River. The government of Egypt has planned many projects aiming to expand the vegetation cover in the country. The Mubarak Pumping Station is one of those projects. Bearing the name of the president of the country, it is literally the largest state project in Egypt.
Located along the shores of the Naser Lake, which was created by the construction of the famous Aswan Dam, this pumping station is a project in which Hitachi, Ltd. installed 21 large vertical centrifugalvolute pumps with the capacity to draw 29 million cubic meters of water per day and supply it to the desert area. About 2,250 square kilometers of land are to be greened through this project, about the same as the area of Tokyo. There are plans for three million people to settle here. In short, the huge scale of this initiative is difficult to imagine.

Humble Beginnings in the Desert

[image]Egyptian technicians went to Japan for training. Shown here with Hitachi workers.
Egyptian technicians went to Japan for training. Shown here with Hitachi workers.

The original construction plans for the pumping station were drawn up more than 30 years ago. The Hitachi Group has been supplying pumps for drainage and irrigation construction work in Egypt since those times. Generally, the pumping equipment is installed after the construction has been completed, but in this case, President Mubarak suggested that it should be an international project, with the design and construction of the pumping equipment done simultaneously with the main structure over a short period of time. For Hitachi, this was an exciting engineering challenge and opportunity to use its many years of experience.
Because of the large responsibility and risk of this project, Hitachi organized an international consortium that included respected British and Egyptian companies. Hitachi was responsible for machinery and electrical systems engineering and the supply of all equipment.
There were no roads before the project began, and the camp site was a harsh environment, with temperatures above 40°C, as well as scorpions and poisonous snakes. About 20 people from the Hitachi Group stayed at the camp, but at its peak, we were living together with about 3,000 others from England and Egypt. We started our main work on the project here in 2000 and stayed until June 2004, coordinating work within the consortium on-site in Egypt, and giving guidance for the local manufacturing and installation process.

A Focus on Cost Control, Technology Transfer, and Safety

We made use of the experience Hitachi has cultivated in pump manufacturing over many years, and gave special attention to making everything compact, ensuring adequate space for operations and maintenance, and, considering Egypt's economic conditions, made a major effort to keep costs as low as possible. We were able to conduct most of the manufacturing of pump casings by cooperating with factories in Egypt, and were also able to ensure local employment and contribute to technology transfer. Until then, Hitachi had supplied many projects overseas. In this case, in order to ensure the same performance and quality as equipment manufactured in Japan, we exported about 1,000 tonnes of steel, and dispatched personnel to Egypt where they stayed for one year to offer detailed technical instructions. As a result, we were able to achieve our original objectives of ensuring quality while also helping to transfer technology to local people. What we really note about this work was the accident prevention at the work site. The work went ahead under harsh conditions that are difficult to imagine in Japan. With this as well, we used Hitachi experience and instituted thorough strategies and measures to ensure safety and health. The project had no comparison anywhere in the world, and many people doubted whether it would proceed according to plan. But we were able to make things work and complete the project in five years. That was the result of fine teamwork.
What we always felt in the land of Egypt was the respect for water. Many developing countries in Asia and Africa need water resources. and we think that the Hitachi Group could make a contribution to those countries. This project gave us a strong desire to do more.

(Published in July 2005)
(Hitachi Group Project Team for Construction of the Mubarak Pumping Station)