Egypt’s ports will be kept up and running for 24 hours a day, up from the current 16 hours of operation, to cut long waiting times for shipments. Hesham Arafat, Transportation Minister of Egypt, said the country tackles an issue that has costs millions of dollars.
Grain traders over the last year have added hefty premiums on shipments headed to Egypt, the world’s largest wheat buyer, partly as a result of soaring demurrage fees – costs borne by suppliers if they fail to unload their ships on time – caused by congestion in Egypt’s ports.
Extending the working hours of Egypt’s ports won’t mean an increase in costs for shippers according to Afarat, who didn´t specify when the new hours would take effect or how long the new policy would remain in place.
Traders say the high demurrage fees have resulted from congestion at Egypt’s ports and what they describe as a tedious inspection process stalling their vessels, prompting them to add risk premiums of up to $500,000 on individual cargoes.
The measure for Egypt’s ports has been applauded by local merchants, who consider it a step in the right direction. The guild said that under the current system carriers could pay additional time in the port beyond the regular 16 hours.
A trader from Cairo called the new schedule a “good move” to avoid extra costs, but added that the lack of storage space for the ports is part of the problem and that the new policy will not solve that situation. “Some storage areas inside the port do not have enough space to download all the inventory,” he said.
The merchants have complained about the increasing charges for delay that have fallen on them in recent months due to the time their ships last in Egypt’s ports. This situation has increased the costs of doing business in Egypt.
With information from: