Panama Canal widening should be finished in early 2016 after $400 million boost

October 3, 2014

PANAMA CITY – A widened Panama Canal will be open for business in 2016 after a $400 million cash injection to help complete the long-delayed project was received, the waterway’s chief administrator said Monday.

Jorge Quijano, the Panama Canal Authority’s lead administrator, told reporters the $400 million loan to complete a $5.3 billion expansion was received by the consortium widening the canal in Central America.

“This is going to help cash flow, … keep independent contractors paid, and get the construction completed,” Quijano explained.

The project was initially planned to have been completed this year in time for the canal’s 100th anniversary.

Now, construction is expected to be finished in 2015, and the widened canal to open in early 2016, the authority says.

The widening will allow it to handle so-called “Post-Panamax” ships with a capacity of up to 15,000 containers, instead of the current maximum of 5,000.

But the project has been plagued by delays, strikes and a bitter dispute over $1.6 billion in cost overruns with the consortium of companies carrying out the upgrade.

“I don’t think we’ll be seeing another delay between now and completion,” Quijano said.

The consortium, known as GUPC, is led by Spain’s Sacyr.

Operating the canal has been a boon for Panama, bringing in about $1 billion a year — equivalent to 10 percent of the government’s revenues and six percent of the national economy.

The waterway provides 10,000 jobs and has helped make Panama one of the most dynamic economies in the region, with 8.4 percent growth last year.

The Suez Canal in Egypt has larger capacity, cutting into Panama’s share of global shipping traffic, and recently launched construction on a $4-billion “new Suez Canal” running parallel to the original.

Closer to home, Nicaragua, which fought Panama more than a century ago to host the first canal across Central America, has reemerged as a modern-day rival.

The Central American country has launched plans for a $40-billion, Chinese-built canal that would be able to handle modern mega-freighters too big for the Panama Canal’s current dimensions.

Recommended: Nicaragua canal survey off to rocky start marked by fear and mistrust

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

Costa Rica grants asylum to Nicaraguan activist Alvaro Leiva
News
192 views
News
192 views

Costa Rica grants asylum to Nicaraguan activist Alvaro Leiva

AFP - October 18, 2018

Costa Rica granted the Nicaraguan human rights activist Alvaro Leiva political asylum last week. Leiva is the secretary of the…

Gardeners of the forest: The tapir in Costa Rica
Pic of the Day
301 views
Pic of the Day
301 views

Gardeners of the forest: The tapir in Costa Rica

Alissa Grosskopf - October 18, 2018

Nai Conservation seeks to protect the endangered danta, or tapir, from growing human intervention. “We formed a collective: we believe…

Court rejects tax reform and asks legislators to eliminate four points
Costa Rica
1121 views
Costa Rica
1121 views

Court rejects tax reform and asks legislators to eliminate four points

Luis Fernando Cascante / Semanario Universidad - October 17, 2018

Costa Rica's Plenary Court has rejected the proposed tax reform bill in its current state and asked the members of…