Centre chalks out four-point strategy to clear Suez Canal blockage

The commerce ministry's logistics division on Friday chalked out a four-point strategy to handle the situation at a meeting with other departments and bodies concerned
The commerce department on Friday said that the government is 'closely monitoring' the impact of the blockage at the Suez Canal.

According to the government's assessment, total backlog at the waterway is likely to be cleared in a week' time. The commerce ministry's logistics division on Friday chalked out a four-point strategy to handle the situation at a meeting with other departments and bodies concerned.

"It was noted in the meeting that over 200 vessels are waiting on the North and South sides of the Suez Canal and about 60 vessels are getting added to the queue on a daily basis. If two more days are taken before the efforts result in clearance of the canal (digging on both sides, extra barges being added on every high tide, tugboats, etc. to straighten the stuck vessel), the total backlog created would be about 350 vessels. It is estimated that this backlog should take about a week’s time to clear out," an official statement said.

The meeting was also attended by the ministry of ports, shipping and waterways, ADG Shipping, Container Shipping Lines Association (CSLA) and Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO). 

Towards this, FIEO, and other associations will jointly identify cargo, particularly perishable cargo, for its priority movement. They will work with the shipping lines for the same.

"CSLA assured that the freight rates according to existing contracts will be honoured. A request has been made to the shipping lines to maintain stability in freight rates during the period of this crisis," it said, adding that the situation is 'temporary' and is unlikely to have a long-lasting impact on trade.

Once the blockage is over, some bunching is expected at JNPT, Mundra and Hazira ports. Ministry of ports, shipping and waterways will issue an advisory to these ports so that they efficiently handle the situation during the forthcoming busy period. 

"Shipping lines were advised through CSLA to explore the option of re-routing of ships via the Cape of Good Hope. It was pointed that such re-routing usually takes 15 additional days’ time," it said.

Blockage of the Suez Canal since 23rd March is seriously hitting global trade. This route is used for Indian exports and imports worth  $ 200 billion to and from North America, South America and Europe. It includes petroleum goods, organic chemicals, iron & steel, automobile, machinery, textiles & carpets, handicrafts including furniture, leather goods, among others.



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