Global shipping is still suffering the consequences of the blockade of the Suez Canal by a container ship in March, reports Nikkei Asia. Ports around the world are still clearing cargo congestion, increased by the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Container freight rates have risen more than 10 percent since the Ever Given accident in late March, forcing companies to rely more on air freight, which is much more expensive, and rail freight, which is much slower.
As a result, global supply chains remain disrupted, the Japanese portal highlights.
The Japanese shipowner’s container ship, flying the Panamanian flag and under the commercial management of Taiwanese company Evergreen Marine Corp, became wedged in a major waterway on March 23, causing significant disruption to global traffic by blocking more than 400 vessels before it was finally removed six days later.
The Ever Given, one of the world’s largest container ships, is being held on the Great Bitter Lake between two sections of the canal as part of a dispute with the ship’s Japanese operator (owner), Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd.
An Egyptian court rejected Shoei Kisen’s appeal on Tuesday and granted the continued detention (arrest) of the vessel over a dispute over the amount of compensation to be paid by the owner. The canal authorities are demanding $916 million.
The Indian-origin 26-member crew still on board may be very concerned about this, as there is no sign yet that an agreement between Egypt and the owners of the Ever Given will be reached any time soon. If no agreement is reached, the crew could be stuck on the ship for years.
Sometimes crew members remain stranded on ships due to international maritime disputes.
“The Guardian” detailed the fate of seaman Mohammad Aisha, who has been guarding the ship alone for two years in the Gulf of Suez, just 80km south of where the Ever Given is currently being held. He is only allowed on land for two hours to get food and water or to charge his phone.
Canal authorities are investigating the cause of the ship’s run aground, but have not yet announced the results.