Egypt’s Sisi promises investment to avoid Suez closure repeat

Egyptian President and African Union Chairman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gives a joint press conference with the Ivorian president at the presidential palace in Abidjan, on April 11, during the Egyptian president’s visit to Ivory Coast. (Photo credit ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
This satellite image from Planet Labs Inc. shows the cargo ship MV Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal near Suez, Egypt, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promised Tuesday that his country would buy equipment to avoid any repetition of the past week’s closure of the Suez Canal as he visited Ismailia, en route to the vital trade artery.

The promise came a day after the refloating of the giant container vessel MV Ever Given, which hit the eastern bank of the narrow shipping lane last Tuesday and became wedged diagonally across its span for nearly a week.

“We will acquire all the necessary equipment for the canal,” to avoid similar incidents, Sisi declared during his visit to Ismailia, home to the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).

Egyptian authorities have presented the freeing of the mega-ship on Monday as a vindication of the country’s engineering and salvage capabilities.

Sisi claimed “success” in the operation after the stern was freed, several hours before the bow of the ship was finally dislodged.

Traffic on the canal, a conduit for over 10 percent of world trade, began moving again on Monday evening after tailbacks totaling 425 ships built up to the north and south.

On Tuesday morning, maritime tracking sites showed ships exceeding 200,000 tonnes — a similar size to the Ever Given — navigating the narrow waterway.

But many more cargo ships were seen waiting at its two entrances, in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

The canal authority says it will take over three days for the tailbacks to clear.

Maritime data company Lloyd’s List said the blockage had held up an estimated $9.6 billion worth of cargo each day between Asia and Europe.

Egypt lost between $12 and $15 million in revenues for each day the waterway was closed, according to slightly revised figures given by the canal authority.