Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah port has launched an initiative to help cargo ships caught in the Suez Canal shipping jam by allowing them to store containers for free for an extended period of time.
Saudi Ports Authority MAWANI said it was offering the services of Jeddah Islamic Port for ship transfers and container offloading, also that it would extend the period of exemption from storage fees for transshipment containers from 30 days to 60 days.
The measures are set to be available for three months starting from 27 March 2021.
Saudi Arabia said Jeddah port’s “advanced capabilities” meant it could accommodate the estimated number of containers on vessels stuck at the southern end of the canal without affecting its operations.
Jeddah is the largest port in the Red Sea, with a capacity of 130m tonnes.
Last week, the 400m Ever Given was freed by tugboats, large-capacity dredgers and high tides six days after becoming wedged on the banks of the Suez Canal.
It was estimated that it would take several days for shipping congestion at both ends of the canal to ease.
Shipping sources estimated that up to 400 vessels were stuck on the north side and the south side of the Suez as they waited for the Ever Given to become freed.
Many large container ships taking cargo from Asia to Europe had already been diverted around South Africa, a move which was expected to add between one and two weeks to the voyage.
SM reported last week that the blockage had hit IT supply chains, which were already facing a “severe stock shortage” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, semiconductor shortages and the aftermath of Brexit.
The ship was blocking a key trade corridor where around 10% of global trade passes, including technology goods from Asia.