Minister insists that Panama Canal expansion will be completed in 2015
DAVOS — Work to enlarge the Panama Canal will be completed in 2015 no matter what, Panamanian Finance Minister Frank De Lima said Wednesday, despite the continuing feud over cost overruns with contractor GUPC.
The Panama Canal authority “has strongly affirmed that the canal would be complete in 2015, with or with out” the GUPC consortium, the minister told AFP on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), led by Spanish builder Sacyr, has threatened to shut down the project unless the government agreed to pay $1.6 billion in unforseen costs.
On Tuesday, the consortium proposed that local authorities help pay the overspending that has threatened progress on a project seen as crucial to the regular flow of international maritime trade.
The minster acknowledged that the proposal was made, but said Panama was exploring “other alternatives” in case the GUPC abandoned the project, though he refused to say whether other builders had been approached.
“For Panama as well as for everyone, it is important that the canal enlargement work ends as soon as possible,” he said.
He added that ports up and down the North American coast were expanding to receive the jumbo sized ships designed to fit through the enlarged waterway.
The overall canal upgrade was supposed to cost $5.2 billion.
Already facing delays, the project aims to make the 80-kilometre (50-mile) waterway, which handles five percent of global maritime trade, big enough to handle new cargo ships that can carry 12,000 containers.
Work on the canal began in 2009 with the goal of being done by 2014 to coincide with the waterway’s 100th birthday.
But completion was pushed back to 2015 after a first disagreement between the canal authority and GUPC over cement quality.
In the current dispute, GUPC says it ran into costly overruns because the canal authority gave the builders the wrong information regarding the area’s geology.
You may be interested
Strong winds cause three deaths in Costa Rica, one in El SalvadorAFP - December 10, 2017
Three people have died in Costa Rica, includiing two Swiss tourists, and one in El Salvador as a result of…
6 camouflaged Costa Rican creatures you probably haven’t seenLindsay Fendt - December 9, 2017
The jungle can be a scary place, and even for some of the fiercest of Costa Rica’s creatures, sometimes the…
National Geographic-Lindblad Expeditions ship makes first visit to Osa PeninsulaThe Tico Times - December 8, 2017
National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions touched down for the first time on Costa Rica's renowned Osa Peninsula this week for…