Suez Canal Could Expand South Canal, President Says

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 was stranded, its president said on Tuesday.

It is also looking at acquiring cranes that could potentially unload cargo at heights of up to 52 meters, Osama Rabie told Reuters in an interview.

“Our procedures are solid, we only aim to improve service,” he said.

The 400-meter-long (1,310-foot) Ever Given grounded diagonally across the southern section of the canal during strong winds on March 23. It was stuck for six days, blocking hundreds of ships and significantly impacting global trade flows.

After it was evicted, the ship was taken to a lake that separates two sections of the canal where the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has been conducting investigations.

Rabie said the ship’s recorder data had been removed and turned over to an investigative committee, and that the ship would travel once the procedures were completed.

“We are talking about two or three more days, God willing. But it won’t take long,” he said.

The committee investigating the grounding was made up of five or six members with experience in law, maritime, salvage and administration, he said, adding that it had caused great damage to Egypt.

“We use about 15 tugs, for six days. We work 24 hours a day. We use two dredgers. We use assistance boats,” Rabie said. “The canal was closed for six days. That alone caused great damage.”

The SCA has said it will continue to take ships the size of Ever Given and is strengthening its ability to deal with future problems.

“We will try to get two more tugs, with a pulling power of more than 200 tons, 250, 280, depending,” said Rabie.

The authority was also studying and planning a possible expansion of the southern part of the canal, the area where the Ever Given got stuck.

“If there’s a 250-meter part that needs expansion, maybe we’ll make it 400 meters,” Rabie said.

(Report by Nadeen Ebrahim and Patrick Werr in Ismailia, additional report by Mahmoud Mourad in Cairo; written by Nadine Awadalla and Aidan Lewis; edited by John Stonestreet, Philippa Fletcher and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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