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Panama Canal expansion works resume

Panama Canal expansion works resume
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) have issued separate statements to say that works have resumed Thursday afternoon on the construction sites of the third set of locks.

“Works have restarted” and “the consortium has guaranteed that it will continue working, which was our main objective so we can move forward and discuss other issues for a longer-term agreement,” said ACP Administrator Jorge Quijano in a statement. The Canal Authority said that it would proceed Friday to pay GUPC the $36.8m due for December invoices. 

This preliminary agreement to resume works does not imply that it would negotiate on the alleged cost overruns claimed by the contractor, said the ACP.  “The ACP reiterates that these claims must be processed through the mechanisms within the contract.”

The parties will continue on negotiations during the next couple of days to come to an agreement that ensures the successful completion of the project, said the ACP statement.

The two sides have been locked in dispute for two months after the GUPC requested the ACP to pay $1.6bn in costs overruns at the end of 2013. On 5 February GUPC carried out its threat to stop all works.

The latest negotiations that concluded with resuming works on the locks site is seen as a breakthrough. However, it is not yet clear how all the GUPC's demands will be resolved and if further delays will result as the construction had been paralysed for 15 days and works slowed down in the moths of December and January.