Middle EastOperations

Suez Canal Authority heeds corruption criticism finally

Castigated repeatedly for its position as the world’s most corrupt area for merchant shipping, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) is trying to take measures to improve Egypt’s reputation.

The SCA has sent a letter addressed to Mr Georgia Spencer-Rowland, the woman who is the policy officer at the International Chamber of Shipping.

The letter states that in line with Egypt’s national anti-corruption strategy, all shipping companies transiting the canal should avoid handing out any type of facilitation payments. The same letter has been sent to local shipping agencies, with the SCA revealing it has adopted the use of digital transactions to avoid bribery, while it said it is investigating reported cases of corruption.

The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) last month released the results and lessons learned from 10 years of collecting data of cancerous, corrupt demands in maritime trade with the Egyptian waterway – often labelled the Marlboro Canal – topping its global corruption league.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. It already starts when report at the SCA for passage in some cases “a small fee” wil allow you to join the convoy in time. When near the approach a launch come alongside to collect ” the small fee” 10/20 cartons Marlboro when no Marlboro the amount is twice cartons.
    Regarding request by pilot for alcohol always the same reply “no sir not for me i am muslim but for a friend”

    1. Wake up – I transited the canal dozens of times from 1967 to 1994 in all ranks –
      gratuities were the norm – requests varied acoording to nationality thirst of the

      1. Me too. First transit was in ’62. It was worse than South America.
        The corruption is endemic as we saw with the Ever Given.

    2. The Suez Canal Authority is like the Mob. You don’t get a job unless you’re an earner, and send money up to the bosses. Canal pilots are like vacuums they suck up everything in their path. I’ve even seen them take rolls of paper towels and stuff them into their suitcase. This is the Pilot we’re talking about not the Run-of-the-mill Bottom feeders. Insatiable!

  2. I’m afraid there will be some declaration that “it is wrong to take gratuities, don’t do it”, but no real enforcement, & it will carry on, as it has done for centuries. Its an easy way for the SCA to keep their wage bill down, they won’t relish making up the pilots, agents, wages up to a realistic level

  3. As an Egyptian, We all know here that both of our Suez canal and Alexandria port are the most corrupt in the world, due to Chinese ships carrying kids and toys and drugs and many times people just take a high price to keep their mouths shut, it’s horrible but we can’t do anything about it

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