Egypt official: new Suez Canal map to guide ships

Egypt official: new Suez Canal map to guide ships

 CAIRO: An official from the Suez Canal Authority told local Egyptian newspapers that the administration of the canal has begun the distribution of a map on the passing ships with speeds less than 15 knots per hour in order to guide them through a safe route to be taken by each vessel when passing through areas of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden so as not to fall into the hands of Somali pirates.

The announcement came only hours after pirates took control of a Libyan ship in the Gulf of Aden.

He added that the map is to be distributed to ships transiting the canal within a convoy coming from the Mediterranean and passing its way to the Red Sea.

He said the map includes a set of recommendations and guidances on ensuring the safety of commercial vessels passing through areas of East Africa and “helps to assess the development of modern threats and risks until the arrival of military assistance in the event of any accident.”

He added that the map was prepared in cooperation between military authorities of the countries suffering from piracy and in cooperation with the Center for Maritime Security in the Horn of Africa, run by the naval forces of the European Union.

He added that the total cargo crossing the Suez Canal en route to the Red Sea and East Africa during the last year has reached 125.5 million tons, representing about 22.5 percent of the total cargo crossing the Suez Canal in the areas to the south.

The Suez Canal administration said that the impact of piracy on the revenues last year was limited and piracy targets shipping companies and ship owners and not the Suez Canal.

The Suez Canal decided in January 2009 to maintain the same canal transit fees for the current year 2010 and working with the same charges last year due to the continuation of the global financial crisis .

During 2009, the Suez Canal achieved revenues of $4.291 billion, a decline of around 20 percent in terms of total number of vessels crossing the canal during the past year and has reached 17,228 ships with a tonnage of 450.7 million tons, a decline of 19.6 percent in the number of vessels and 19.3 percent in cargo.

The canal is an important source of foreign currency for Egypt, as well as tourism and oil and gas exports and remittances from Egyptians abroad.