File Photo: Osama Rabie, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, monitors the situation near stranded container ship Ever Given, one of the world's largest container ships, after it ran aground, in Suez Canal, Egypt taken on March 25, 2021. REUTERS
The Egyptian Suez Canal Authority (SCA) will seek over $1 billion in compensation for the losses incurred from the blocking of the Suez Canal by the giant ship Ever Given as well as the costs of dislodging it, the SCA Chairman Osama Rabei said,
The SCA chairman said that the canal authority will not only ask for compensation for the losses incurred by the six-day disruption of the navigation flow by the Ever Given, which are estimated at $14-15 million a day in revenues, but also would ask to be reimbursed for the expenses of using dredgers and tugboats in the refloating process as well.
In a phone interview with Ahmed Moussa on the 'Ala Masaolity (It’s My Responsibility) TV show on Sada El-Balad channel on Wednesday night, the chairman stressed that “it is the right of Egypt to be compensated ... we will not forfeit our right,” Rabie added.
The 400-metre-long ship, which was on its way from China to the port city of Rotterdam in the Netherland, veered off course and ran aground on 23 March across the 250-metre-wide canal, which is the shortest link between Asia and Europe.
The Panama-flagged MV Ever Given is owned by the Japanese firm Shoei Kisen and operated by a Taiwanese Evergreen Marine Corp.
"We exerted a lot of efforts and labour to save the ship. We lost daily revenues. We deserve compensation."
"We are now in the process of calculating the costs we incurred from using dredgers and tugboats that worked 24 hours for six days and some damage on the canal's bank," Rabie explained.
A fleet of tugboats and diggers, with the assistance of the tide, managed on Monday to wrench the bow of the Ever Given from the canal’s sandy bank, where it had been firmly lodged for six days, causing a huge build-up of vessels at the strategic waterway.
The refloating process salvaged the gigantic ship and was carried out in a professional manner without causing “a single crack” to the vessel, Rabei said.
"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 saved their cargo," Rabie stressed.
“We dislodged the vessel in six days only; it would have taken 3 months to do this if the incident had occurred in a country other than Egypt,” he added.
According to Rabie, a committee of experts began investigations into the incident on Wednesday in a bid to uncover the causes of the mishap.
He noted that the ship, which is now idle in the Bitter lakes, a wide stretch of water halfway between the north and south ends of the canal, will not be allowed to sail until the investigations are wrapped up and a compensation settlement is reached.
"We could reach a settlement in a friendly way and take a lump sum compensation," Rabie said.
“However, it is possible that they could resort to the adjudication; but if this happens, the ship will remain in Egypt with its cargo until the litigation process ends,” he explained.
"If they are smart, they will not litigate this," Rabie added.
“However, the owners of the Ever Given is a decent company and they are really cooperating; they participated in the salvaging process; we have dealt with them for a long time and did not face any problem with them in the past,” Rabie added.
“We hope a settlement is reached in two or three days so we can say case closed,” Rabie added.
"At the end of the day, it comes down to a question of rights," Rabie added.
Shipping along the canal was resumed once again on Monday evening shortly after the refloating of the skyscraper-sized ship, which delayed billions of dollars a day in international maritime commerce.
Up to 214 of 422 delayed vessels that were stranded in and around the canal crossed over in the past two days, according to the SCA chairman, who expected that the backlog to be completely cleared by Saturday at the most.
The ship’s hull is insured by Japan’s Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, which is under MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co and Sompo Japan Insurance Inc, while UK P&I Club is also the insurer for the ship.
UK P&I Club has said that it was the protection and indemnity insurer for the Ever Given.