Egyptian authorities confiscated a massive cargo ship thatlast month, the channel’s chief and court clerk said on Tuesday. The ship was confiscated amid a financial dispute with its owner.
Lieutenant General Osama Rabie said the impossible Ever Dide would not be allowed to leave the country until an amount of compensation was determined with the Japanese ship’s owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd.
“The vessel has already been officially confiscated,” he told Egyptian state television late Monday. “They don’t want to pay anything.”
There was no immediate comment from the shipowner.
Rabbi did not say how much money the channel’s government was looking for. However, a court official said he wanted at least $ 900 million. The state-run daily Ahram also reported $ 900 million.
This amount takes into account the rescue operation, the cost of blocked channel traffic and lost transit fees for the week during which Ever Given blocked the channel.
The official said the order to confiscate the ship was issued on Monday by a court in the city of Ismailia on the Suez Canal and that the ship’s crew was informed on Tuesday.
He said prosecutors in Ismailia have also launched a separate investigation into what led to Ever Given settling. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to inform the media.
Rabbi said negotiations are still ongoing to reach an agreement on compensation.
Last week, he warned in an interview with the Associated Press that taking the case to court would be more detrimental to the vessel’s owner than settling with the canal’s management.
The litigation can be complicated, as the vessel is owned by a Japanese company run by a Taiwanese freight forwarder and is registered in Panama.
The Panama-flagged ship, carrying about $ 3.5 billion in cargo between Asia and Europe, ran aground on March 23 in the narrow, man-made canal separating mainland Africa from the Asian Sinai Peninsula.
The ship crashed on the shore of a single-lane section of the canal about 3.7 miles north of the southern entrance, near the city of Suez.
On March 29, rescue teams released Ever Given, ending a crisis that clogged one of the world’s most vital waterways and halted billions of dollars a day in maritime trade. Since then, the ship has been idling in Egypt’s Hot Bitter Lake, just north of where it previously blocked the canal.
The unprecedented six-day halt, which has raised fears of long delays, shortages of goods and rising costs for consumers, has further strained the shipping industry, which is already under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.
Rabie, the channel’s boss, told state television that the channel’s authorities had not committed any wrongdoing. He refused to discuss, including the speed of the ship and the strong winds that affected it during the sandstorm.
Asked if the ship’s owner was at fault, he replied: “Of course, yes.”
Rabbi said the conclusion of the government’s investigation is expected on Thursday.