Egypt has said it won’t release Ever Given, the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week, until its owners pay compensation for damages due to build-up of vessels around the waterway, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
“We hope for a speedy agreement,” Osama Rabie, chairperson of the Suez Canal Authority, told state television in Egypt. “The minute they agree to compensation, the vessel will be allowed to move.”
On March 31, the Suez Canal authority had said that Egypt will seek compensation worth around $1 billion (nearly 7.47 thousand crore) for the blockage caused by the cargo vessel with 25-member Indian crew. However, Rabie did not disclose the compensation amount and said that they were in the middle of negotiations, according to Marine Insight.
A spokesperson of Shoei Kisen Kaisha Limited, the Japanese owner of the vessel, said they have not received any claims or lawsuits to seek compensation for damages from the blockage.
The Japanese company has also moved the London High Court to limit liability. The claim names the ship’s charterer Evergreen Marine Corp as the defendant along with all others who claim damages for the blockage, including the Suez Canal.
Company spokesperson Ryu Murakoshi said that it was “part of the normal process of an insurance claim”, making it clear that the move was not an attempt to target anyone.
Seafarers association and unions have expressed concern about the sailors onboard, who they fear will be trapped for a long time in case of a dispute. “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 ship is currently at the Great Bitter Lake, outside the canal where investigators are looking into the cause of the grounding.
The 400-metre long cargo vessel Ever Given was set afloat on March 29 evening (Indian time). The ship became jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal in high winds early on March 18, halting shipping traffic. Authorities lodged a tedious excavation operation, with diggers working to remove parts of the canal’s bank and expand dredging close to the ship’s bow to a depth of 18 metres. At least 369 vessels were waiting to transit the canal when the blockage was cleared.