SINGAPORE: The first vessels coming to Singapore after a 400m-long container ship that ran aground in the Suez Canal was freed, will begin arriving this week, Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat said on Wednesday (Apr 7).
Speaking to CNA at the sidelines of an event appreciating maritime workers for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Chee said Singapore's ports, the authorities and industry players have been planning ahead for the shipping backlog.
This involves preparing more berths, equipment and workers to increase capacity, as well as work closely with shipping lines to help them play catch-up.
“For example, (PSA Singapore) opened up their (digital trade platform) system, CALISTA, to allow shipping lines to be able to keep track of the situation in Singapore and how to plan their voyage so that they minimise the delays when they arrive in Singapore,” said Mr Chee.
He added that these are value-added cargo solutions that Singapore can offer to resolve bottlenecks in the shipping squeeze.
Two weeks ago, the container ship Ever Given was lodged across a section of the Suez Canal, halting traffic in the vital trade artery for six days.
The incident exacerbated ongoing congestion and delays in ports around the world that were already facing a spike in shipping demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Chee said it will be difficult to predict how long it will take for Singapore to clear the backlog of ships arriving from the Suez Canal but says he sees this as an opportunity for the country.
“I think if we can do this well, this will allow Singapore to further differentiate ourselves as a global transshipment hub.
"In fact, many of the shipping lines actually want to do catch-up. And they can do catch-up in Singapore because we have good connectivity, and we have very efficient operations,” he said.