Egypt: Suez Canal Seen Kept Open by Army as Ship Agent Suspends Service
By Michelle Wiese Bockmann - Feb 1, 2013
Egyptís army is maintaining shipping services through the Suez Canal, which handles about 8 percent of world trade, amid unrest thatís suspended some port services, Inchcape Shipping Services, a global maritime agent said.
ďThe canal is a controlled military zone, therefore there are no transit issues,Ē Sheila Armstrong, spokeswoman for the Chafford Hundred, England company, said in an e-mailed response to questions. The agency hasnít been providing ship supplies or organising crew changes since Jan. 29 for vessels calling at Egypt because they canít guarantee safety to ports, she said.
Egyptís army is using cameras and helicopters to guard traffic through the 193 kilometer- (120 mile)-long canal that earned $5.13 billion in tolls in 2012, amid rioting. A week ago, demonstrations marking the second anniversary of the Jan. 25 uprising that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak unleashed street battles that led to a state of emergency being declared and curfews in three provinces.
Cargo couldnít be released at Port Said, at the mouth of the canal, as staff werenít working, according to Inchcape. Operations at Sukhna Port stopped on Jan. 31 due to a strike by contractors, while bad weather also caused delays at other ports along the canal, according to Inchcape.