Rerouting Jordan-bound ships at Suez to cost up to hundreds of thousands

Ships are moored outside the Suez Canal as they await entry on Saturday, March 27, 2021, where the Ever Given, a container ship operated by the Evergreen Marine Corporation, is currently stuck in the canal (Photo: NYTimes)
AMMAN — Rerouting Jordan-bound ships laden with livestock and other cargo stuck in the Suez Canal would take around 15 days and up to hundreds of thousands in additional costs, an official source said on Sunday.اضافة اعلان
“If the ships choose to take a different maritime route, that would be through Cape of Good Hope, which should take around 15 days and thousands if not hundreds of thousands in costs, this may push merchants to either return the stock to its original country or sell the merchandise stranded in the sea to cut their losses,” Director of Jordan Maritime Commission Mohammad Salman told Jordan News.
Furthermore, the alternative route poses piracy threats for the ships, as pirates regularly target ships carrying food, and livestock through Cape of Good Hope, Salman noted.
Seven ships carrying livestock have been delayed by a single ship that ran aground and is currently blocking the southern entrance to the Suez Canal.
The Panama-registered but Japanese-owned ship, called Ever Given, is one of the largest container ships in the world. Last week, the ship ran aground while traveling from Malaysia to the Netherlands, according to CNN.
It is currently completely blocking the canal, making it impossible for any other vessels to pass and holding up an estimated $9.6 billion of goods a day, according to the Financial Times. The Suez Canal, which passes through Egypt, is a key connector of global supply chains; on average, over 50 ships pass through the canal a day, Anadulo Agency reported.
In remarks to local media, Minister of Agriculture Ibrahim Shehadeh said on Saturday the ships are carrying 85,000 cattle, but noted that food and water are available for them. He also noted that the ministry is considering redirecting the ships along other routes, including Syria.
“We import grains, cars and spare parts, and livestock which arrive through the Suez Canal. Eleven ships bound to Aqaba are now late due to this issue. But we are raising our readiness level to accommodate the ships as they arrive together after this situation is resolved,” Salman told Jordan News.
Jordan imports around 1 million sheep and 80,000 cattle yearly, according to Shadi Al-Othman, Head of the Slaughterhouse Department in Greater Amman Municipality.
Al-Othman noted that extended travel can have an impact on the health of the animals. Usually, their trip only lasts seven to ten days. 
Livestock arrive at the port in Aqaba on livestock carrier ships from Australia, Brazil, Ukraine, and Romania. According to the Aqaba Company for Ports Operation and management, 5,264 tons of cattle arrived at Aqaba in February of 2021 alone.
Demand for meat products in the Kingdom tends to rise in the weeks before Ramadan, but said Daif Allah Abu Aqula, the head of the Clearance and Shipping Syndicate, told Jordan News “Jordan will not be much affected by the Suez issue. We have enough strategic reserve of food and basic commodities. Most of the items coming through Suez from Europe are not essential.”
However, “if the situation persists it will disrupt the market and cause price spikes,” Abu Aqula added.
Efforts to free the Ever Given have so far been unsuccessful. The ship, which is as long as the Empire State Building is tall, ran aground after strong winds and a sandstorm. Dredgers have been working to loosen sand and mud from around the 224,000-ton vessel’s bow, and tugboats have been attempting to free the ship in vain. The incident will likely have consequences throughout the region; Syria has been forced to ration fuel, according to CNN.