ISMAILIA, EGYPT (REUTERS) - The Suez Canal expects to see 140 more ships pass through the waterway on Tuesday (March 30) after traffic restarted overnight following the release of a grounded container ship, its chairman said.
Shipping convoys through the canal resumed on Monday evening after tugs pulled the 400m-long Ever Given container carrier free from the spot where it became wedged on March 23.
The Ever Given's stranding across a southern section of the canal forced a halt to all traffic, leading to a build-up of 422 ships at either end of the canal and along its course.
Suez Canal Authority chairman Osama Rabie said 95 ships would pass by 1900 local time (1am Wednesday Singapore time) on Tuesday and a further 45 by midnight, re-asserting that he hoped a backlog caused by the blockage would be cleared in three to four days.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the Ever Given's grounding had drawn attention to the importance of the waterway for global trade.
"We didn't hope for something like this, but fate was doing its work. It showed and reaffirmed the reality and importance" of the canal, Mr Sisi said as he greeted staff on a visit to the Suez Canal Authority in Ismailia.
Separately, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) said clearing the ships that built up at the Suez Canal could take four days, although catching up at ports will take longer.
"The backlog of ships will likely take four to five days to be back to normal, Jan Hoffmann, an Unctad expert on logistics, told a briefing on Tuesday, adding that it could take several months to clear the knock-on backlog at ports.