Suez Canal shipping backlog cleared, Egyptian officials say

CAIRO • The queue of hundreds of ships that built up around the Suez Canal after the grounding of the Ever Given vessel has been cleared, according to the Egyptian authorities.

The final 85 ships passed through the waterway last Saturday, the Suez Canal Authority said on its Facebook page, adding that the operation demonstrated its ability to manage emergencies.

Overall, 422 vessels have passed through since the container ship was freed on March 29, after blocking the canal for almost a week. The 400m-long Ever Given, owned by Japan's Shoei Kisen Kaisha, ran aground on March 23 in the southern part of the canal.

The waterway handles about 12 per cent of the world's commerce. Its blockage snarled supply chains already under pressure due to the Covid-19 pandemic and provided a stark reminder of the fragility of global trade infrastructure.

The canal usually handles 50 ships a day, but had to raise that figure to 80-90 to clear the backlog.

Egypt plans to seek around US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) in compensation for lost transit fees and damages, the Canal Authority said last week.

It did not specify who should provide the compensation.

Most of the vessels that were held up were bulk carriers - which transport unpackaged cargo such as grains, coal and iron ore - and container ships, said Leth Agencies, which provides Suez Canal crossing services.

There were around 75 crude oil and chemical tankers, it said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2021, with the headline 'Suez Canal shipping backlog cleared, Egyptian officials say'. Subscribe