CAIRO, 26 March 2021 – Ships queued up waiting to navigate through Egypt’s Suez Canal are delaying $400 million an hour in goods, experts said Friday.
The stranded mega-container ship, the size of a skyscraper, prevents $9.6 billion worth of goods from moving east or west through the man-made canal every 24 hours, according to the estimates.
All marine traffic was blocked Friday for the fourth consecutive day.
Dredgers, tugboats, and a backhoe were at work again Friday in the hope of freeing the giant cargo ship which ran aground in the Suez Canal last Tuesday.
The EverGreen, as the Panama-flagged vessel is called, was carrying cargo between Asia and Europe and going through what is the shortest route between Asia and Europe.
The bow of the vessel probably plowed into the sandy banks of the canal, Egyptian officials have speculated.
A team from Boskalis, a Dutch firm specialized in salvaging, arrived the Suez Canal on Thursday, to help with freeing the ship.
Suez Canal authorities said Thursday that it could take “days to weeks” to free the stuck ship.
Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei, the head of the canal authority, said navigation through the man-made waterway would remain halted until the EverGreen is refloated.
Egyptian officials said freeing the vessel may involve offloading some of the containers – at the earliest – over this upcoming weekend.
On Friday, projections were more optimistic from an advisor of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Mohab Mamish who advises the Egyptian leader on seaports and was a former chairperson of the Suez Canal Authority told reporters Friday that he expects that navigation through the canal “will resume again within 48-to-72 hours, maximum”.
Bernhard Schulte Ship Management, the company that manages the EverGreen, said they were focusing on dredging to remove sand and mud from around the port side of the vessel’s bow.
As of close-of-business Thursday, more than 200 vessels were backed-up, waiting to enter the canal.
The Japanese owner of the vessel on Thursday offered a written apology to the world of shipping for the mess the accident had caused.
“We would like to apologize to all parties affected by this incident, including the ships traveling and planning to travel through Suez Canal,” said Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd in a statement.
The owners promised Thursday in the statement to “keep on working hard to resolve this situation as soon as possible”.