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Suez Canal Jam: As blockage continues to cost billions of dollars a day, Russia suggests an 'alternative' route

12:34 PM Mar 26, 2021 | FPJ Web Desk

The MV Ever Given, a 400m-long and 59m-wide container ship has single-handedly brought one of the most important waterways in the Mediterranean region to its knees. Two days after the massive cargo ship managed to wedge itself sideways into a narrow part of the Canal, it continues to remain stuck. And now, authorities are concerned that it "might take weeks" to extricate it and get the Canal back in gear.

Almost as long as the Empire State Building is high, the Ever Given is determinedly blocking transit in both directions, and according to reports, causing billions of dollars worth of loss on a daily basis. According to a Bloomberg report that makes estimates based on Lloyd’s List, the blockage may be costing $400 million per hour. The report estimates that the Canal sees westbound traffic worth around $5.1 billion a day and eastbound traffic worth approximately $4.5 billion. With around 200 vessels waiting to cross, this is perhaps one of the worst shipping jams in history.

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Simply put, every day that the Canal remains closed, container ships and tankers are unable to delivering food, fuel and manufactured goods to various parts of the world. And with around 10% of the world's trade flowing through the waterway in Egypt, companies are now scrambling to come up with alternatives. Another Bloomberg report indicates that people were now beginning to panic. Desperate shippers were reportedly considering the movement of goods by air, or indeed any kind of vehicle that would actually move.

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This however poses something of a logistical nightmare, because aircrafts cannot carry all the goods that the stranded ships hold. Not to mention that this comes against the backdrop of the many issues posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Initial efforts to undo the damage have failed and there are some fears that the ship could remain stuck for some time yet. The company, Evergreen Marine Corp says that the container ran aground after being hit by a "suspected gust of wind". Reports have also suggested that the bulbous bow of the gargantuan ship had drilled into the Canal embankment.

This handout satellite images courtesy of Cnes 2020 released on March 25, 2021 by Airbus DS shows the Taiwan-owned MV Ever Given lodged sideways and impeding all traffic
A handout picture released by the Suez Canal Authority on March 25, 2021 shows the Taiwan-owned MV Ever Given lodged sideways and impeding all traffic across the waterway

But even as the world bemoans the blockage and netizens get busy making memes, Russia has an alternative route in mind. Tongue firmly in their cheeks, the Russia's nuclear agency Rosatom took to Twitter suggesting an "alternative" route. The handle created a multi-point list of "reasons to consider Northern Sea Route as a viable alternative to the Suez Canal Route".

Russian President Vladimir Putin has long pushed for greater traffic along the Arctic shipping route, with the nation undertaking several measures for it's development. The entire route lies in Arctic waters within Russia's exclusive economic zone. Now, with the Suez Canal blocked, the Russian organisation lost no time in reacting.

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