Will the widening of the Suez Canal is enough to prevent another ship from getting stuck?

As it is rightly said that best lessons are learnt from a big mistake, similarly here in the case of the Suez Canal blockade, the business leaders and officials are taking big learning from the crisis which happened two months earlier. Everyone is concerned and ideating on how this incident can be prevented from happening again. That’s exactly what Suez Canal officials are doing in the aftermath of the giant container ship that blocked the international shipping lane for six days. 

Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority plans to widen and deepen parts of the waterway to improve the movement of ships in the area where a stranded container vessel blocked traffic in March. The new proposed plan outlines that it would be a 30-kilometre wide stretch by about 40 meters and deepen that area to 72 feet instead of the 62 feet which it is currently. Although, Egypt offers to cut compensation claim for blocking the canal since this widening project will take approximately two years to finish.

President of Egypt, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, mentioned at an event that he doesn’t want to mobilize huge public funding for the project as the government did when expanding the canal years earlier. Questing how this move will benefit, Sal Mercogliano, a maritime historian at Campbell University in North Carolina, questions will widening the canal, will result in bigger vessels?

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Suez Canal is one of the most efficient routes which transports a high volume of tankers. Head of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), Osama Rabie asserts by saying that post-pandemic when companies recover, this is one of the first things they should do is to carefully review the cause of the crisis, then implement reforms or changes to help ensure the same situation is not repeated in future.

Given the strategic location of the Suez Canal, it connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and offers the shortest sea route between Europe and Asia. This is one of the prime reasons for its influence. When the ship was blocked here, the shipments had to travel around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa, which took them more than double the time to reach there. This time Russia is coming forward and offering the alternative route of the Northern Sea Route. This route runs along the Arctic coast of Russia, from the Kara Sea to the Bering Strait and directly brings money in pockets of Russians.