By JAMILA HUSAIN
Sri Lanka is bracing for a major impact from the blockage caused by a ship stuck in the Suez Canal, with port authorities to urgently meet with key players this week to assess the damage it will cause on the country if the stalled ship is not freed within the coming days.
Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Chairman, General Daya Ratnayake told Daily Mirror that Sri Lanka will face a major brunt this week if the blockage continues as most of the country’s imports and exports into the West and Europe require using the Suez Canal route.
Further, ships who use the canal, usually dock at the Sri Lankan Port to travel to North Africa and West and Europe and the arrival schedules at the Colombo Port is expected to be disrupted.
Although it is too early to assess the cost of damage which will fall on several sectors including the Port, Ratnayake said authorities will hold an urgent meeting today or tomorrow with shipping agents, importers and exporters and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce to discuss the impact from the blockage.
“The effect on exports will be huge because 50 to 60 per cent of our high value exports going into the West and Europe use this channel. The imports coming in from that part of the world will also be stalled,” Ratnayake said.
“The last few days we did not feel it much because anyway we depend on at least six days travelling time. But this week we will feel it,” he added.
So far, while several countries are expecting a shortage of oil and fuel with the global oil and fuel prices expected to spike, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation has said there will be no fuel shortage due to vessels unable to pass through the Suez Canal.
As of last evening, there was not much progress in moving the stalled ‘Ever Given’ vessel which is stuck near the Egyptian city of Suez, about 3.7 miles north of the canal’s southern entrance. It’s in a narrow section of the canal, about 985 feet wide.
As of Saturday evening, at least 321 ships, carrying everything from cars to oil to grain, wait at the canal’s northern and southern entrances, causing a loss of 10 billion dollars per day.
Last evening, Egypt’s President ordered preparations to be made to unload the cargo of the stalled ship if refloating it fails.
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