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Panama President attends groundbreaking of PSA-Panama expansion

Panama President Juan Carlos Varela was the guest of honour at the PSA Panama International Terminal (PSA Panama) expansion groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, on the west bank of the Pacific Panama Canal entrance.

Varela praised the $400m investment PSA Panama is making “to increase Panama’s port capacity, to which my administration brings all its support.”

PSA Group Ceo Tan Chong Meng underscored some of  the similarities between Singapore and Panama: Both countries have almost the same population, 5 million for Singapore and 4 million for Panama, but when the water flows around Singapore, in Panama it flows across the country. The big difference is that “in Singapore we have no chance to collect tolls,” said Tan amidst applause and laughter from the attendees including the Panama Canal Authority administrator Jorge Quijano, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Dulcidio de La Guardia ,and the Panama Maritime Authority Administrator Jorge Barakat and other officials.

“The [Canal] expansion writes a new chapter and we want to be part of it… it is a great milestone [for PSA Panama] to go to four times our present capacity to 2m teu capacity,” said Tan, who was accompanied by PSA regional ceo David Yang.

In February 2015, Panama’s National Assembly, the Panama Canal Authority ACP, the Panama Maritime Authority and the Panamanian State gave their approval to the expansion which is targeted to be ready for operations before the end of 2016 in conjunction with the commercial opening of the Panama Canal third lane that will allow post-panamax to transit.

“PSA Panama expansion the project opens up new logistics and maritime opportunities for the west bank of the Panama Canal Pacific, making this an important part of the future of Panama and its national logistics sector,” said PSA Panama general manager Alessandro Cassinelli.

“Vessels of up to 12,500 teu will ply the Asia-US East Coast routes and be able to use Panama’s Pacific coast as a transhipment hub for the West Coast of South and Central America. Vessels of 4,000 teu can then serve Ecuador, Peru and Chile, Guatemala and Costa Rica on a weekly schedule via Panama. This allows shipping lines to benefit from economies of scale in operating across the Pacific and along the South American Coast. PSA Panama will provide sufficient capacity to allow lines to build a hub strategy,” said PSA head of Latin America Enno Koll.  

The capacity of the terminal will increase from 450.000 teu today to 2m teu per year. The new terminal will have 11 quay cranes with a maximum outreach of 24 rows and over 1.1km of berth.The investment into civil works amounts to $285m while the value of equipment will be over $125M. In addition to the 8 Quay Cranes, the terminal will feature 12 Rail Mounted Gantry Cranes (RMGs), 9 Rubber Tyred Gantry Cranes (RTGs), 52 Prime Movers and 3 Empty Container Handlers. PSA Panama International Terminal (PSA Panama), a subsidiary of PSA International, started operations in December 2010.

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