Traffic jam in the Suez Canal: Global trade impacted; Know cause and impact

By: |
March 26, 2021 12:03 PM

Built in the year 1869, Suez Canal provides a major shortcut for ships moving between Asia and Europe. Before its construction, the ships had to sail around Africa to finish the same journey.

Suez Canal, shipTugboats were pulling the vessel toward the Great Bitter Lake, in the middle of the waterway, where it will undergo inspections.

The Suez Canal is known to be a critical shipping artery that links the Mediterranean and Red Seas through Egypt. On Tuesday, it has been blocked after a large cargo ship ran aground while passing through it, bringing traffic to a halt on the busy trade route. In order to minimise disruption to global trade, Egypt is now diverting ships to an older channel. The blockage in Suez Canal has already led to a long queue of vessels waiting to cross it, according to an IE report. The Suez Canal, which is a human-made waterway, is one of the most heavily used shipping lanes in the world, carrying over 12 per cent of world trade by volume. Built in the year 1869, Suez Canal provides a major shortcut for ships moving between Asia and Europe. Before its construction, the ships had to sail around Africa to finish the same journey.

According to the report, the vessel that is blocking Suez Canal is the Ever Given. It is a Panama-registered container ship that is on its way from China to Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Due to a mishap caused by bad weather, the 2018-built vessel, which is 400 metres long and 59 metres wide, got stuck here. While passing northwards through the canal on Tuesday morning local time to enter the Mediterranean Sea, the ship weighing 2 lakh tonnes ran aground. It got stuck sideways across Suez Canal, blocking the path of other ships waiting to cross through on both sides. A Taiwanese transport firm- Evergreen Marine, that operates the ship, said that none of the crew members was injured.

According to a maritime historian who spoke to the BBC, incidents like this are rare, but when they happen, it can have massive ramifications for global trade. The Ever Given ship is the largest vessel to go aground in the Suez Canal as per the report. Now, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) is trying to refloat the ship utilizing rescue and tug units. Besides, diggers are also trying to free Ever Given from the canal’s bank, where it is lodged.

According to experts, the effort to remove the ship as well as make the canal again fully functional could take several days. A daylong blockage could have a severe impact on global trade since the alternative route between Asia and Europe around Africa is a week slower than the Suez route. A Reuters report stated that any such delay could also result in a shortage of container vessels and boxes, as 30 per cent of all container ships in the world pass through Suez canal. As per SCA data, approximately 19,000 ships (an average of 51.5 ships per day) with a net tonnage of 1.17 billion tonnes passed through the canal in the year 2020.

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