Osama Rabie, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), said on Wednesday night that Egypt aims to claim more than USD $1 billion in compensation following the recent blocking of the Suez Canal by container ship the Ever Given, reports Ahram Online.
In a phone interview on the television channel Sada El-Balad last Wednesday evening, Rabie claimed that compensation is necessary not only for the revenue lost from toll payments of ships that were unable to pass through the canal, but also for the costs of tugboats and other specialist equipment used in the operation to free the ship.
Ahram Online reports that Rabie asserted the critical role played by the authority in the rescue operation. “This ship is carrying cargo worth more than $3.5 billion. We saved them a huge sum of money. We saved the ship itself and we saved their cargo.”
“It is the right of Egypt to be compensated,” he explained. “We will not forfeit our right.”
Rabie also stated that the Ever Given is currently in the Great Bitter Lake, a wide stretch of water north of where the ship was initially lodged, until the investigation is closed and an agreement on settling the costs has been reached.
Rabie’s comments follow news that the owner of the Ever Given has filed a lawsuit against its Taiwanese operator, Evergreen, as reported by The Lawyer.
The Ever Given, a so-called ‘megaship’, was en route from China to the Netherlands when it became lodged sideways across the canal, blocking one of the world’s most critical trade routes.
It was freed six days later after a rescue operation involving tugboats, dredgers and a Dutch specialist team. It was initially believed to be strong winds and low visibility from a passing sandstorm that caused the crisis, but an investigation is currently underway to determine exactly how the ship became stuck.
The blocking of the Suez Canal had caused more than 300 ships to be stranded on both sides of the Suez Canal, resulting in global economic losses. According to the Suez Canal Authority, more than USD $9 billion of goods a day were being blocked from moving through the Suez Canal, with Egypt losing at least USD $14 million in revenue a day.
The Suez Canal is one of the world’s most important waterways. The existence of man made canals connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea can be traced back to 1310 BC, but construction of the modern canal was completed in 1869. Nowadays, the canal oversees around 10 percent of global maritime trade annually, and tolls paid by passing vessels are a vital income source for the Egyptian government.