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Panama Canal expansion reaches halfway stage

Panama City: Panama Canal expansion programme is 50% complete and the construction of the third set of locks has reached 40% of completion, according to Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Administrator Jorge Quijano.  “We estimate, based on the progress, that we can begin commercial transits mid-2015,” he said.

The ACP recently announced that several projects have been concluded, including the dredging to deepen and widen the navigational channels along Gaillard (also called Culebra) Cut. This marks another important milestone for the Canal expansion. The dredging works started in March 2008.

“Gradually, we are completing all the projects that make up the Expansion Programme,” said Quijano. The excavations of the Pacific lock access channel are 76% complete and a week ago, the first million cubic metres of concrete were poured in the locks construction site on the Atlantic side. “The Atlantic locks could be finished three months ahead of time allowing us to do the tests earlier than on the Pacific side which may help reduce delays,” explained Quijano.  

In July 2012, the multi-national Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) that is building the locks, announced they would conclude the construction by mid-April 2015, a six month-delay on the date stipulated on the contract. However, “we are working against the clock to finish before the additional six months we have required,” he said. “The Atlantic locks could be ready before [April 2015],” commented GUPC general manager Bernardo Gonzalez.

 

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