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Sunday, 4 April 2021

Adiós

The last 61 ships left stranded by the MV Ever Given’s choking of the Suez Canal passed through the waterway yesterday, Suez Canal Authority (SCA) boss Osama Rabie said in a statement, after a total of 422 ships had piled up at either end of the canal as the mega-vessel blocked it for six days. An additional 24 ships that were not held up by the blockage passed through the canal yesterday as normal traffic resumed, according to the statement. About 361 vessels had passed through the Suez Canal as of Friday after traffic through the Canal resumed Monday evening following successful efforts to dislodge the Ever Given, Rabie told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 1:29). At least 80 ships sailed through the canal on Friday alone carrying 4.7 mn tonnes of cargo, the SCA said in a statement, including a US aircraft carrier group as well as several oil and LNG tankers. A number of international shipping companies expect traffic to return to its normal rates in the two streams of the Canal this week, Hapi Journal reports.

Europe’s ports are likely to see a wave of incoming ships that had been delayed by the blockage, while those in Asia and on the US East coast expect a surge in mid-April, the Financial Times reports. The scheduling conflict is putting more pressure on an industry already straining to keep up with an increased volume of ships since late 2020 due to a worldwide e-commerce boom amid the pandemic.

The Suez Canal Authority should prioritize upgrading the shipping route’s technical infrastructure to avoid future disruptions, considering the ever-increasing size of commercial vessels, Reuters reports. In addition to acquiring up-to-date salvage equipment equipment, stricter guidelines on how ships transit the canal are needed, industry sources told Reuters, such as only permitting transit during daylight hours.

The SCA is set to receive two of the biggest tugboats in the region from The Netherlands — with one due to land next week and the other in August — as part of the authority’s plans to develop the Suez Canal, Rabie told El Hekaya’s Adib (watch, runtime: 13:38). Operations to extend the Canal’s width are also under consideration after the Ever Given’s accident, Rabie told CNN Arabic, though the waterway does not need an expansion of its depth, which currently stands at 24 meters, he said.

Four Japanese officials will reportedly be sent to Egypt to lend a helping hand in the ongoing investigations into the Ever Given’s grounding, Transport Minister Akaba Kazuyoshi told Japan's state-run broadcaster NHK.

Taiwan's Evergreen Marine, which chartered the stranded megaship, have denied liability for the Suez Canal blockage, pointing fingers at the Ever Given’s operator and owner Shoei Kisen instead, as the accident occurred during the transportation during which “the ship's owner contractually shoulders the responsibility,” Evergreen Marine President Eric Hsieh said at a presser last weekend, Nikkei Asia reports.

This shipping company’s statement came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Ever Given’s owner against the ship’s operator that highlights the “labyrinthine ownership structure” that makes it difficult to determine who should take responsibility for marine accidents, the Washington Post reports.

The Suez Canal won’t be held responsible for any damages as a result of the incident, the SCA’s Rabie said last week. The authority expects to claim some USD 1 bn in damages from ins. companies, which includes foregone revenues of around USD 15 mn for each day the ship blocked the canal, as well as damages to the Suez Canal from dredging the bank’s embankment to dislodge the ship, Rabie said last week.

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