Cairo – The crisis of the ship “Ever Given” is still unresolved, although there is a new hope for resolving the crisis amicably between the Suez Canal Authority and the company that owns the ship, which has been held in the canal since its re-float on March 29.
Yesterday, Saturday, the Ismailia Economic Court (east of Cairo) decided to postpone the case until the fourth of next July to allow an opportunity for a friendly settlement between the two parties. Hope for a positive outcome of these negotiations in the near future.
The authority’s lawyer, Khaled Abu Bakr, revealed that negotiations continued between the two sides until yesterday, and the company submitted a new offer for settlement, without revealing further details.
Despite the insistence of each party on its position, the recent negotiations seem to have resulted in a financial offer that satisfies both of them, and it has not been disclosed so far.
The authority is currently holding the ship – owned by a Japanese company – in the waters of the Bitter Lakes in the Suez Canal, since it was re-floated at the end of last March, after its delinquency caused the canal to be closed.
“Ever Given” ran aground in the Suez Canal on the morning of last March 23, during strong winds, and disrupted the course of the canal for 6 days, causing the accumulation of 422 ships.
The Suez Canal Authority is demanding compensation of 550 million dollars for the authority’s losses due to the ship’s delinquency, the cost of the flotation process, and a rescue bonus.
Experts say that the figure of $ 100 million proposed by the operator company is far from the real cost, which cannot be less than $ 300 million.
Professor of Transport Economics and Maritime Transport Expert Ahmed Al-Shami confirms that if the ship obtains a court order to unload the cargo, this takes a long time and increases costs and damages.
And in previous statements to Al-Jazeera, Al-Shami adds that the biggest mistake is borne by the ship, and the weather conditions represent only 1%, and if the negotiations reach an amount of 600 million dollars, this will be better, because the owners of the goods can demand compensation equivalent to 50% of the value of the goods.
On the other hand, writer Rose George – author of a book on international maritime navigation – believes that it is no wonder that the ship ran aground in the Suez Canal, because the canal is a “trench in the desert”, and if its width was only 300 meters, the stranded ship was 400 meters long, according to an article in Guardian Theguardian .
Another report published by the Guardian said that human error is responsible, not weather conditions, and that ships transiting the canal have onboard guides belonging to the channel, who are responsible for crossing the ship.
The instructions of the navigation rules on the Suez Canal website – which Al Jazeera has seen – clearly state that “the master is solely responsible for the ship, so the master – taking into account the directions given by the guide – gives the necessary orders for the leadership, engines and locomotives.”
The rules emphasize that if, for the sake of quick maneuvers, the master thinks it better to allow the pilot to give orders directly, the maneuvers can be carried out in these circumstances, and they are carried out at the order of the master and he bears sole responsibility.
Is the movement of ships affected?
It does not seem that the “Ever Given” crisis affected navigation in the world’s most important shipping lane to connect the East and West, as the movement of ships increased last May by 6.9%, and those ships carried about 106 million tons, and this is an increase in the channel’s income, he said. Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority Osama Rabie.
In previous statements to Egyptian TV, Rabie added that the profits of April this year witnessed an increase compared to the profits of the same month last year.
These indicators may be an incentive for the Canal Authority to accept a friendly solution, especially since it was not materially affected by the suspension of navigation after the crisis, and it also achieved a global reputation for being able to float the ship by itself, even after about a week.
The Suez Canal Authority initially demanded about 900 million dollars in compensation for the losses caused by the ship, then announced the dropping of 300 million dollars, and the demand for 300 million dollars in return for the rescue reward, and another 300 million dollars as compensation for the moral or moral damage that had befallen the reputation of the Suez Canal. .
After that, the authority said that it could accept about $200 million in cash initially to release the ship, provided that the owner company put $350 million in a letter of guarantee to allow the ship to leave immediately.
The owner company refused
The Japanese company, “Shui Kesen”, the owner of the ship and the insured companies refused the detention process, and they also refused to pay the amount of compensation demanded by the authority.
According to the defense memorandum of the owner company (reviewed by Al-Jazeera Net correspondent), the owner company says that the authority’s guides in the Suez Canal made some mistakes, which affected the safety of its voyage in the navigational channel, and caused the occurrence of the accident, and that the Canal Authority does not deserve any reward for saving the ship. .
The defense asserts that after unloading the black box, it was found that instructions had been issued to the ship to enter the Suez Canal and to transit in unfavorable weather conditions at the time of the incident, and that a dispute arose between the guides of the Suez Canal Authority and the control center of the Canal Authority regarding the entry of the ship.
The defense says that the first tugboat arrived about an hour after the ship ran aground, and all the conversations were in Arabic between the pilots’ team on the ship and the port office and movement control, which did not enable the captain to follow the navigation movement.
The defense also rejected the authority’s talk about moral damage, stressing that it achieved a global reputation from the ship’s flotation, and the navigation movement increased after the end of the crisis, and the defense demanded in the end the formation of a five-year committee of experts to determine who is responsible for the delinquency incident and assess the damage.