The Suez Canal could expand the southern canal, says the chairman


© Reuters. A ship is seen after sailing through the Suez Canal in Ismailia


By Nadeen Ebrahim and Patrick Werr

ISMAILIA, Egypt (Reuters) – The Suez Canal Authority is considering expanding the southern section of the waterway where the container ship Ever Given has been stranded, the chairman said Tuesday.

Osama Rabie told Reuters in an interview that cranes could be procured that could potentially unload cargo at heights of up to 52 meters.

“Our procedures are solid, we just want to improve the service,” he said.

The 400-meter-long Ever Given was grounded diagonally across the southern section of the canal in strong winds on March 23. It got stuck for six days to prevent hundreds of ships from passing and severely affect global trade flows.

After the relocation, the ship was taken to a lake that separates two sections of the canal on which the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has carried out investigations.

Rabie said data from the ship’s clerks had been removed and turned over to a committee of inquiry, and the ship would resume once the procedures were completed.

“We’re talking about two or three more days, God willing. But we won’t need much time,” he said.

The committee that investigated the grounding consisted of five or six members with legal, maritime, salvage and administrative expertise, he said, adding that it caused great damage to Egypt.

“We used about 15 tug boats for six days. We worked 24 hours a day. We used two dredgers. We used auxiliary starts,” Rabie said. “The canal was closed for six days. That alone did a lot of damage.”

The SCA has announced that it will continue to take ships the size of Ever Given and strengthen its ability to deal with future problems.

“We’re going to try to get two more tugs with more than 200 tons of pulling power – 250, 280, depending on,” Rabie said.

The agency also investigated and planned a possible expansion of the southern portion of the canal, the area where the Ever Given got stuck.

“If there’s a 250-yard piece that needs to be extended, we might make it 400 yards,” Rabie said.

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