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Suez Canal digs in to extend double lane and deepen southern stretch

Egyptian authorities said this week they plan on widening and deepening parts of the Suez Canal to avoid a repeat of the Ever Given blunder in March, according to Bloomberg.

In a televised address on Tuesday, the head of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), Osama Rabie, said a 30 kilometer stretch of the waterway would be widened by about 40 metres and deepened by 10 meters to improve the movement of ships in the area.

The expansion will take around two years, Rabie said.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who also spoke at the event, stressed he doesn't want to mobilize "huge" public funding for the project, according to Bloomberg.

The Suez Canal, an artificial sea-level waterway, is one of the world's most heavily used shipping lanes, facilitating about 12% of all global trade.

The Japanese-owned Ever Given container ship made headlines in March after it ran aground in the single-lane stretch during a sandstorm.

It blocked the crucial waterway for six days, forcing some vessels to reroute, while hundreds had to wait for the Ever Given to be freed.

A few days after the Ever Given was dislodged, the SCA impounded the ship and its cargo and lodged a compensation claim of $916 million.

The canal authority since reduced the claims to $600 million. However, the insurer of the vessel said this amount is still too high.

The massive container ship had spent 48 days idle as of Saturday. It is impounded in the Great Bitter Lake, a body of water roughly 50 kilometers from where it first got stuck.

Sources: The Guardian and Business Insider

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