By Celestine Ajayi
A massive container ship, Ever Given, that has blocked the Suez Canal was freed late on Monday.
The container has been stuck on the canal’s sandy bank since last Tuesday before a flotilla of tugboats managed to wrench the bulbous bow of the skyscraper-sized container.
This latest development has brought huge relief to global business which has seen about $9 billion being lost each day in global trade and straining supply chains already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic.
It remained unclear when traffic through the canal would return to normal. At least 367 vessels, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle, have piled up on either end of the canal, waiting to pass.
Data firm Refinitiv estimated it could take more than 10 days to clear the backlog of ships. Meanwhile, dozens of vessels have opted for the alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip — a 5,000-kilometer (3,100-mile) detour that adds some two weeks to journeys and costs ships hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel and other costs.
The freeing of the vessel came after dredgers vacuumed up sand and mud from the vessel’s bow and 10 tugboats pushed and pulled the vessel for five days, managing to partially refloat it at dawn.