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Global supply chains – already roiled by the Russia/Ukraine crisis – are facing a new bout of disruption in Sudan, with escalating violence and political unrest.

Concerned over operational risks, major container carriers, including Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd, have suspended cargo bookings for the African nation until further notice.

Hapag-Lloyd also told customers: “Any bookings placed up to this date will be honoured and shipped to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.”

Maersk said that, while it was “exploring solutions to stabilise its supply chain services in Sudan”, it added: “The current circumstances mean we have stopped taking new bookings until the situation improves”  The carrier has also shut its offices in Khartoum and Port Sudan.

However, CMA CGM said this morning it would simply add an “extra risk coverage surcharge” of $500 per teu, dry and reefer, from Europe, the Middle East and India from 1 May.

Port Sudan is the country’s major gateway, on the Red Sea, and is also critical for landlocked neighbour South Sudan’s oil exports.

Yesterday, West P&I Club reported: “All roads and bridges in Port Sudan are currently open for transporting goods to and from the port, and load and discharge operations are continuing as usual in the port itself. Furthermore, the oil terminal at Bashayer, an essential facility that handles Sudan’s oil exports located near Port Sudan, is operating normally.”

In December, AD Ports Group signed a $6bn deal with the Sudanese government for a new Red Sea port, just north of Port Sudan, as well as the rights, with partner Invictus Investment, to develop and operate all new ports in the country. It is not clear how this will now progress.

Meanwhile, air connections in and out of Sudan are also in disarray. Most of the Gulf carriers halted Sudan services after a Saudia passenger flight was recently caught in crossfire.

Emirates has declared an extended suspension of flight connections to Khartoum, Sudan’s busiest airport, through 31 May, an industry advisory noted.

Air freight forwarders have voiced concerns over Sudan’s supply chain quagmire. Joy John, director of sea and air freight at Mumbai-based Jet Freight Logistics, told The Loadstar: “The air space has been closed and this has disrupted air cargo shipments to Khartoum. Supply chain managers are dealing with difficult times to fulfil their customers’ requirements.”

The long-simmering conflict is between two rival security generals, Abdel-Fattah Burhan, who leads the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, who heads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Clashes have already claimed hundreds of lives, according to reports.

The unrest has also dealt another blow to long-time efforts to help improve Sudan’s sagging economy, with travel and tourism verticals – now in a shambles – its key traditional GDP contributors.

International governments have begun evacuating their citizens and officials from Sudan.

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