The ACP has postponed non-critical maintenance work at the locks and modified its booking system as well as it has cancelled draught restrictions and assigned additional crews to operate the tugs, locomotives and locks.
The ACP will temporarily suspend booking slots for regulars available in the third period, for vessels less than 91.5 mtr (300 feet) in length and for Just-In-Time slots for regulars, to expedite traffic. These measures will take effect 12 November 2015.
The greater demand is attributed, in part, to traffic diverted from the US West Coast and a higher-than-normal volume of ships that require additional security measures, such as tankers and gas carriers, said the ACP. Traffic at the waterway has also seen a higher percentage of large and deep-draught vessels which has affected Canal Waters Time.
According to the ACP, the weather has also slowed traffic: Fog has delayed 107 vessels during the month of October and the drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon has reduced water levels in Gatun Lake, increasing lockage process time.
“We have taken, and will continue to implement measures to speed traffic and reduce wait times,” said ACP Administrator Jorge L. Quijano. “We are working hard to improve the situation and are making steady progress, but it is slow. And we will do more to address the issue as quickly as possible for our valued customers."