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Suez Canal reopens

containership stuck in the suez canal causing port congestion
canal suez

During late March, the freight carrying ship Ever Given got lodged in the Suez Canal for almost six days. With the vessel currently freed, Egypt is now requesting more than $1B for damages and losses. As the Suez Canal opens back up and traffic is cleared, the costs from the blockage may start to come in. The Ever given is currently being held at the Suez Canal for investigation and analysis.

The Suez Canal, known for being one of the businesses canals in the world is responsible for over a billion tons of freight a day. When the canal got blocked, it hinders global trade and created fears for potential shortages. Meanwhile, the world is still dealing with the effects of the corona pandemic; so more stress was added.

Where did the payment come from?

The $1 billion requested from Egypt is a payment for the monetary and substantial damages done because of the Ever Given. Lt. Gen. Ossama Rebei, head of the Suez Canal Authority stated that the payment would include the costs of digging out dirt for six days. It will also include the damages in the canal from dredging the boat and costs from transit fees. It will not cover the cost for the 400+ boats that were delayed for almost a week and costs for freight on the boat.

The owner of the ship, Shoei-Kisen stated that what may happen will be that the shippers will split the general average amongst themselves. This could be a complex situation because of the large number of freight shippers that the boat has. When a general average occurs, cargo insurance tends to pay. However, if the shipper does not have cargo insurance, the shipper may have to pay out of pocket.

Who is liable for litigation?

If legal action is required, it could be complicated to find out who is to blame. This is because of the various nationalities associated with the freight vessel. First, the flagging of Ever Given was done in Panama. This means that the boat is registered in Panama. The firm that owns the ship is Japanese and the operator of the ship is Taiwanese. When the vessel got lodged, two of the pilots on the ship were Egyptian.

As a preventive measure, Lt. Gen. Ossama explained plans to increase the number of ships that pass through the Suez Canal a day to 95. The current number of daily ships is around 50. More support boats will also be added. What may be an issue is that the equipment used to tow the large freight boats has not developed compared to the boats themselves. The freight boats grew in size over time while the equipment stayed the same.


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