With a $1bn compensation demand by the Suez Canal Authority, fear grips Indian seafarer families of Ever Given
There is fear
among the families of the 25 Indian crew on the container vessel ‘Ever Given’
that their breadwinners may be stuck in Egypt for some time, as wrangling
continues over a $1bn compensation demand by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).
Last month, the
giant containership had run aground diagonally across the southern section of
the Suez Canal, halting for over a week the Asia to Europe movement of around
370 vessels using the world’s busiest waterway
on 31 March that it would not release the vessel, currently anchored at the
Great Bitter Lake for assessment of damage, until compensation was paid. The
20,000 teu container vessel owned by Japan’s Shoei Kisen Kaisha (SKKL), was
chartered by Evergreen Marine Corp of Taiwan.
“We hope for a
speedy agreement,” SCA chairman Osama Rabie declared on state-run television.
“The minute they agree to compensation, the vessel will be allowed to move.”
However, Rabie did not disclose the compensation amount, and said that they
were in the middle of negotiations.
The SCA claim
allegedly names the ship’s charterer, Evergreen, as the defendant, and makes
all others who use the Suez Canal as co-litigants.
of SKKL, the Japanese owner of the vessel, said they had not received any
claims or lawsuits to seek compensation for damages from the blockage.
company has also moved the London High Court to limit liability. Company
spokesperson Ryu Murakoshi said that it was “part of the normal process of an
insurance claim”, making it clear that the move was not an attempt to target
associations and unions have expressed concern about the sailors on board, who
they fear could be trapped for a long time in case of a dispute. “The prospect
of them being stuck gives us grave concern,” said Stephen Cotton, the
secretary-general of the International Transport Workers Federation in London.
The Ever Given
got stuck in the canal in high winds on 23 March, and was refloated on March 29
engaged a complex salvage operation, with diggers working to remove parts of
the canal’s bank and expand dredging close to the ship’s bow to a depth of 18
metres. At least 369 vessels were waiting to transit the canal when the
blockage was cleared.