Suez Canal May Expand Southern Channel, Chairman Says
The Suez Canal Authority is considering expanding the southern section of the waterway where the container ship Ever Given became stranded, its chairman said on Tuesday.
It is also looking into procuring cranes that could potentially offload cargo at heights of up to 52 meters, Osama Rabie told Reuters in an interview.
“Our procedures are sound, we are just aiming to improve the service,” he said.
The 400-meter-long Ever Given became grounded diagonally across the southern section of the canal during high winds on March 23. It remained stuck for six days, preventing hundreds of ships from passing and significantly impacting global trade flows.
After it was dislodged, the ship was taken to a lake that separates two sections of the canal where the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has been conducting investigations.
Rabie said data from the ship’s recorders had been removed and handed over to an investigation committee, and that the ship would travel on once the procedures were completed.
“We are talking about two or three more days, God willing. But we won’t take much time,” he said.
The committee investigating the grounding was made up of five or six members with law, maritime, salvage, and administration expertise, he said, adding that it had caused Egypt great damage.
“We used about 15 tug boats, for six days. We worked 24 hours a day. We used two dredgers. We used assistance launches,” Rabie said. “The canal was closed for six days. That alone caused great harm.”
The SCA has said that it will continue to take ships of the Ever Given’s size and is reinforcing its ability to deal with future problems.
“We will try to get two more tug boats, with pulling power of more than 200 tonnes - 250, 280, depending,” Rabie said.
The authority was also studying and planning a possible expansion of the southern part of the canal, the area where the Ever Given got stuck.
“If there is a 250-metre part that needs expansion, maybe we will make it 400 meters,” Rabie said.
(Reporting by Nadeen Ebrahim and Patrick Werr, additional reporting by Mahmoud Mourad; Writing by Nadine Awadalla and Aidan Lewis; Editing by John Stonestreet, Philippa Fletcher and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)