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Planning an Alternative to the Suez Canal

In an effort to avoid a repeat of the event, in mid-May, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) announced it had started dredging work to widen and deepen the southern part of the canal where the Ever Given was jammed. The 30-kilometer-long area will be widened by 40 meters to the east and deepened to 72 feet, up from 66 feet, according to the SCA. Plans also include extending the second lane near the Great Bitter Lake, which opened in 2015, by 10 kilometers — allowing two-way traffic along an 82 kilometer stretch. The work is intended for “maximizing the canal’s efficiency and shortening the vessels’ transit time, as well as raising the navigation safety,” said a press release from the SCA. But there are still questions as to whether this will be enough to prevent future blockages. However, the Ever Given incident did prompt discussion of alternative routes. The canal’s strategic position — connecting the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and offering the shortest sea route between Europe and Asia — is key to its influence. Without the Suez, shipments between the two continents would have to travel around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. Some shipping companies opted for this route while the Suez was blocked, despite it taking more than double the time.