Suez Canal traffic has come to a halt after the container ship Ever Given became wedged in the middle of the pivotal canal earlier this week. Efforts to free the blockade have been ongoing, with new attempts to allow an estimated £1.7million worth of orders to resume flowing through the Suez Canal. The “nightmare” traffic jam has sparked widespread concerns among trading companies trying to recuperate from the forced trade shut down the coronavirus pandemic caused last year.
The Cotswold Company’s operation director Alan Joseph told Sky News: “Our teams have been working really hard for the last couple of days and will be over the weekend to make sure that all the late times represented are accurate and our customers are updated proactively.
“The retail industry as a whole has had a well-publicised difficult year.
“A lot of shops are looking forward to reopening and are doing so with the prospect of not being entirely sure about when the products they are selling are arriving.”
International trade economist Dr Rebecca Harding warned failure to dislodge the Ever Given from the Suez Canal could cause concerning delays among manufacturers relying on just-in-time deliveries.
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Dr Harding said: “Equipment that is going on to manufacturing line doesn’t get there at the time when the manufacturing line needs it, that just creates a delay in manufacturing.
“That can have ripple effects across the whole economy because a lot of inventory rely on just in time delivery so this is obviously going to affect that.”
About 15 percent of world shipping traffic passes through the canal, and hundreds of vessels are waiting to pass through the waterway once the blockage has been cleared.
Dredgers had removed some 20,000 tonnes of sand from around its bow by Friday, but tugging operations to free the ship were suspended overnight.
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Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Chairman Osama Rabie said he hoped it would not be necessary to resort to removing some of the 18,300 containers from the ship to lighten its load, but that strong tides and winds were complicating efforts to free it.
“The ship’s stern began to move towards Suez, and that was a positive sign until 11 p.m. (2100 GMT) at night, but the tide fell significantly and we stopped,” Rabie told journalists in Suez.
“We expect that at any time the ship could slide and move from the spot it is in,” he added.
Dredgers had removed some 20,000 tonnes of sand from around its bow by Friday. A Dutch firm working to free the vessel said it could be freed by the start of next week if heavier tugboats, dredging and a high tide succeed in dislodging it.