While the Suez Canal Blockage is resolved, the ordeal of its grounded ship Ever Given is far from over. According to reports, the ship is stuck in the region until and unless the compensation is paid to the canal authorities.
Egypt has asked for heavy compensation for the 6-day blockage which includes the cost of refloating the ship and the revenue loss that happened during the blockage.
The authorities have made it clear that they won’t release the ship or its crew until the shipowner pays the compensation and the investigation gets over.
“The vessel will remain here until investigations are complete and compensation is paid,” said Osama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority.
“We hope for a speedy agreement. The minute they agree to compensation, the vessel will be allowed to move”, Rabie added.
Earlier last week, Rabie indicated that Egypt could be demanding compensation worth $1 billion for the loss of transit fees and other costs. According to an analysis by London based financial firm Revenitiv, Egypt lost transit fees worth $95 million because of the blockage. However, Canal officials have affirmed that some of it would be recouped once the regular traffic resumes in the Suez Canal.
Although they aren’t ruling a lawsuit altogether, they prefer an out of court settlement. Meanwhile, the Japanese owner of the vessel, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., says that they haven’t received any information regarding this clause that the ship won’t be released without compensation, said the company spokesman Ryu Murakoshi.
“It is true we are in the middle of negotiations with them,” Rabie said.
He declined to reveal the compensation amount, saying that the company is cooperating with an investigation done by the Canal authorities.
The ship ran aground in the canal on 23rd March and got relocated on 30th March after round the clock efforts by engineers and sailors working with a flotilla of tugs to refloat it. A supermoon high spring tide helped in the process.
Presently, Ever Given along with its 25 crew members are at the Great Bitter Lake, just outside the canal where the cause of the grounding is being investigated.
The ship’s black box has been accessed by the investigators to find more clues about the grounding. Initially, the investigators had suggested that the sandstorm and windy issues set the vessel put of course.
Meanwhile, the Japanese company that owns the ship have moved to court, filing a case at a London High Court to limit liability. This claim names the ship’s charterer Evergreen Marine Corp as the defendant along with all others who could be claiming damages for the blockage, including the Suez Canal.
A spokesperson from the company, Mr Murakoshi termed it as “part of the normal process of an insurance claim”, making it clear that it wasn’t an attempt to target Evergreen or anyone else.
The company has declared that ” shippers with cargo on the ship would have to pay into a fund to cover costs of recovery or damages before they could reclaim their cargo”.
They have hired adjuster Richard Hogg Lindley to handle the matter.
Meanwhile, seafarers association and unions are concerned about the fate of the ship’s seafarers in case of a long dispute.
They fear that the sailors could be trapped for long.
“The prospect of them being stuck gives us grave concern,” said Stephen Cotton, the secretary-general of the International Transport Workers Federation in London.
The crew seemed to be well treated, said Mr Cotton.