The number of ships using the Suez Canal declined by 15.9% in January, compared with the same month of 2011.

The number of transits fell to 248 vessels ,with toll revenue falling by 9% to US$405 million. Revenue from the waterway is the main source of foreign currency for Egypt.

Although the military have ring-fenced the administration buildings that support the waterway at Port Said against the threat of social unrest, it is thought that concerns over security may have deterred some ships using the canal last month.

Moreover, the Suez Canal Authority has announced a 2% to 5% increase in fees for ships using the artery from May 1, prompting shipping groups to threaten to route ships around the Cape of Good Hope instead.

Despite the army presence, protesters managed to briefly shut down the administration buildings at Port Said on Sunday, but a military guard prevented any disruption to the port.

HAVE YOUR SAY at [email protected]