At the end of March a 399.94 x 59 meter container ship named Ever Given got stuck in the Suez Canal. This huge vessel, one of the largest of its kind in the world, spent six days blocking all shipping traffic and thus much of the world’s trade. This brought to the table the need to widen the canal, so Egypt is now getting down to work.

This Saturday, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) began work on the canal expansion. The works should be completed in a maximum of 24 months. The idea is to widen the southernmost section by about 40 meters and to increase the depth of the section by two to three meters.

The project, as mentioned above, will be carried out in several phases. The SCA plans to widen the southernmost section by 40 meters. This, which is about 30 kilometers long, runs from the city of Suez to the Bitter Lakes area. It is also planned to increase the depth of the section from 66 to 72 feet (or from 18.89 meters to 21.94 meters).

On the other hand, a second lane north of the Great Bitter Lake that was opened in 2015 will be extended with a 10-kilometer stretch, so that it will reach 82 kilometers in length and will allow the passage of more ships. Subsequently, work will continue to further expand the channel by up to a further 30 kilometers along the southernmost part.

The ultimate goal is to prevent a recurrence of what happened with the Ever Given. The container ship blocked much of the world’s trade and forced other vessels to take an alternative route or wait. The Ever Given, a Japanese vessel flying the Panamanian flag, is currently in dispute with SCA, which is claiming $916 million in damages from the owners.

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