The Traffic Jam in the Suez Canal

The Traffic Jam in the Suez Canal

Ryan Lally

In one of the strangest global stories in recent memory, a ship has recently become stuck in the middle of the Suez Canal.  Shouldn’t engineers have thought of this before?  Why is the Canal not big enough to accommodate these cargo ships?  Long story short, accommodation is easier said than done when ships like the Ever Given (which is stuck in the Canal) carry over 20,000 shipping containers and are as long as the Empire State Building is tall.  


The lodged ship, whose captain said a gust of wind blew it into the side bank, has caused massive problems for the global trade industry.  The Suez Canal is one of the world’s busiest maritime trade routes, and many alternative routes involve thousands more miles of travel, time, and resources.  Because such an occurrence is not at all commonplace, no one was anticipating such an accident.  The ship has been lodged for a week now, as tugboats try every day to restore the flow of traffic.  Roughly 300 ships have been stalled behind the Ever Given, as they have nowhere to go.  

But we are Americans.  The Suez Canal is a passage all the way across the globe.  How does this affect us?  Unfortunately, we are not safe from the catastrophic implications of the Ever Given’s predicament.  The Suez Canal represents roughly 10% of the world’s trade.  Some estimate that the Ever Given is costing the global economy $9.6 billion each day it is not dislodged.  The ships which had previously planned on using the Suez Canal now have two options:  They can wait out the situation, or plan an alternative trade route along the Southern Coast of Africa, raising concerns about the history of piracy.  Either way, shipping costs in virtually all industries could sky-rocket, having a ripple effect on global supply-chains.  Unfortunately, depending on how long it takes to resolve the situation, the Ever Given’s position could mean a rise in prices worldwide.  The Suez Canal is used to transport everything from electronics and food to ore and petroleum.  All there is to do is hope that a resolution is found, and that life as consumers can continue as usual. 


Editor’s Note: Since the author wrote this article, the Ever Given has been released from its locked position and the logjam in the Suez has slowly started to move again.