Air and sea freight operations in Sudan have ground to a halt as violence escalates

The outbreak of civil war in Sudan has disrupted the air and sea freight industries. The majority of companies have suspended or changed their operations in the face of increasing violence and long-term insecurity.

The temporary peace ended after negotiations between de facto leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo deteriorated. The failure of full transition to democracy after the previous dictatorship has created a dangerous power vacuum.

The Guardian reports that the temporary ceasefire has been successful in quelling the violence, but many fear it will not last beyond April 27.

This violence has hit the international trade industry hard. According to Hellenic Shipping News, Maersk is exploring solutions to stabilize its supply chain services in Sudan and has closed its offices in the cities of Khartoum and Port Sudan.

The airline said: “Due to the current circumstances, we are no longer taking any new bookings until the situation improves.”

Hapag-Lloyd informed customers that bookings will be suspended from Tuesday 25 April. Hapag-Lloyd said: “All bookings made up to that date will be honored and shipped to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.”

CMA CGM said it will simply add an “additional risk coverage surcharge” of $500 per 20-foot container for both dry and refrigerated units from Europe, the Middle East and India starting May 1, reports said .

Port Sudan is the country’s main gateway to the Red Sea, and oil exports from neighboring South Sudan are heavily dependent on the port.

However, the West P&I Club reported last week that roads and bridges around the port were “currently open” and the oil terminal was operating normally.

Analysts have told North Africa Post that the conflict in Sudan could affect trade in the region due to its strategic location on the Red Sea and close to the Suez Canal.

Claire Amuhaya, a researcher focusing on development in East Africa, said: “(Sudan) connects important transport routes for aviation, oil and other (goods). It has to be in stable hands to keep that flow going.”

Meanwhile, air services to and from Sudan are in disarray and most Gulf airlines have suspended Sudan service.

Sudan’s airspace is one of the largest aviation areas on the continent. Airlines have now either avoided the violent zones – by taking over longer routes – or grounded scheduled flights.

Emirates airline has announced an extended suspension of flights to Khartoum, Sudan’s busiest airport, until May 31.

Meanwhile, London-based insurers added Sudan to their list of high-risk areas after a meeting of Lloyd’s Joint War Committee and the International Underwriting Association.

Lloyds List reports that shipowners must inform insurers of all voyages to Sudan, adding additional war risk premiums.

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